UPDATE 2-Fortis to buy UNS Energy for about $2.5 bln
(Adds analyst comment)
By Julie Gordon and Scott Haggett
Dec 11 (Reuters) - Fortis Inc has reached a friendly deal to buy Arizona-focused utility UNS Energy Corp for about $2.5 billion in cash, the Canadian power company said on Wednesday, as it looks to expand its presence in the United States.
The deal, which will also see Fortis take on about $1.8 billion of UNS debt, highlights an increased focus in North American markets on rate-regulated operations, over deregulated merchant power.
Once completed, regulated utility assets will comprise about 92 percent of Fortis's total assets.
The $60.25 per share that Fortis is offering for UNS is a premium of 31.4 percent on UNS's Wednesday close of $45.84 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock was up 30 percent at $59.40 in after market trading.
The deal, which still needs regulatory and shareholder approval, is expected to close by the end of 2014.
"This is a very good price. I can't see that shareholders will have anything to complain about as far as the price goes," said Christopher Ellinghaus, an analyst with Williams Capital Group.
He added that the deal could face hurdles with the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates UNS and declined to approve the acquisition of the company by a private equity group in 2004. Continued...