TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said on Thursday her Liberal government would sell up to 60 percent of the province’s electrical utility Hydro One but would limit minority shareholders to 10 percent stakes.
Canada’s most populous province would continue to regulate electricity rates, Wynne told a news conference.
“This will generate about C$4 billion ($3.27 billion), based on the council’s estimates, which we will set aside for moving Ontario forward,” Wynne said. “This is money we will not need to borrow, and every dollar of it will now be dedicated to help build those roads, highways, bridges, transit, and other high-priority infrastructure.”
Wynne said the government would retain de facto control of Hydro One and would nominate the largest number of board members and the chair, and the power to set rates would continue to reside with the Ontario Energy board.
David Denison, former head of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, would replace Sandra Pupatello as Hydro One’s chair, she said.
Ontario has seen its debt balloon to C$300 billion ($246 billion) since 2009 as the Canadian dollar, high-flying at the time, sideswiped exports and hurt the province’s once-dominant manufacturing sector.
While the province has pledged to balance the budget in 2017-18, it is running a C$12.5 billion ($10.23 billion) deficit this fiscal year.
Wynne last year asked a panel led by former Toronto-Dominion Bank chief executive Ed Clark to make recommendations on whether or how to sell assets like Hydro One as well as the province’s corporation for electricity generation, Ontario Power Generation, and the LCBO, Ontario’s liquor sales monopoly.
In February, Ontario sold its remaining shares in General Motors Co (GM.N) for approximately C$1.1 billion ($900.46 million) and allocated the proceeds for infrastructure.
Editing by Christian Plumb and Ted Botha