Kansas City, MO-based Great Plains Energy, Incorporated, the parent company of KCP&L, and Westar Energy, Inc. announced today a definitive agreement for Great Plains Energy to acquire Westar in a combined cash and stock transaction with an enterprise value of approximately $12.2 billion, including total equity value of approximately $8.6 billion. Upon closing, Westar will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Great Plains Energy.
Once the transaction is complete, Great Plains Energy will have more than 1.5 million customers in Kansas and Missouri, nearly 13,000 megawatts of generation capacity, almost 10,000 miles of transmission lines and over 51,000 miles of distribution lines. In addition, more than 45 percent of the combined utility’s retail customer demand can be met with emission-free energy.
“Westar and KCP&L are trusted neighbors and have worked together for generations in Kansas. The combination of our two companies is the best fit for meeting our region’s energy needs,” said Terry Bassham, chairman and chief executive officer of Great Plains Energy and KCP&L. “This is an important transaction for Kansas and our entire region. By combining our two companies, we are keeping ownership local and management responsive to regulators, customers and regional needs, while enhancing our ability to build long-term value for shareholders.”
Currently, Great Plains Energy and Westar jointly own and operate the Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station, as well as the La Cygne and Jeffrey power plants. With the addition of Westar’s generation fleet, Great Plains Energy will have a more diverse and sustainable generation portfolio. This will provide increased flexibility to mitigate the potential customer impacts from future carbon regulation. In addition, among investor-owned utilities in the United States, the combined company will have one of the largest portfolios of wind generation in the country.
“This is an important day for Westar, our customers, employees, shareholders, the communities we support and for the state of Kansas,” said Mark Ruelle, president and chief executive officer of Westar. “Our commitment to reliability, customer satisfaction, safety and sustainability is consistent with Great Plains Energy’s values, which makes them our ideal partner. We’re eager to join the Great Plains Energy team, and excited about this new chapter that combines the unique strengths of our respective organizations to form an even stronger company for our state.”
Great Plains Energy has an established track record of successful integration with adjacent electric utilities. In 2008, Great Plains Energy completed its acquisition of Aquila, an electric utility serving customers in adjacent areas of Missouri. That successful acquisition has delivered – and continues to deliver – significant savings for customers, which exceeded initial expectations and was reviewed and approved by both the Missouri Public Service Commission and the Kansas Corporation Commission.
“The utility industry is facing rising customer expectations, increasing environmental standards and emerging cyber security threats. These factors, coupled with slower demand growth for electricity, are driving our costs and customer rates higher. Our acquisition of Westar will create operational efficiencies and future cost savings that will benefit all involved – customers, shareholders, employees and the communities we serve. These savings also will help reduce future rate increase requests,” said Bassham. “Combining our two companies will result in cost savings and operational benefits for our more than 900,000 Kansas and 600,000 Missouri customers.”
Transaction terms and financing profile
Under the terms of the agreement, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors for both companies, Westar shareholders will receive $60.00 per share of total consideration for each share of Westar common stock, consisting of $51.00 in cash and $9.00 in Great Plains Energy common stock, subject to a 7.5 percent collar based upon the Great Plains Energy common stock price at the time of the closing of the transaction, with the exchange ratio for the stock consideration ranging between 0.2709 to 0.3148 shares of Great Plains Energy common stock for each Westar share of common stock, representing a consideration mix of 85 percent cash and 15 percent stock.
The transaction enterprise value is expected to be approximately $12.2 billion, inclusive of approximately $8.6 billion in total stock and cash consideration to be received by Westar’s shareholders and the assumption of approximately $3.6 billion in Westar’s debt. Great Plains Energy has secured approximately $8.0 billion of committed debt financing from Goldman Sachs Bank USA and Goldman Sachs Lending Partners LLC in connection with the transaction for the full cash portion of the transaction consideration. Great Plains Energy has also secured a $750 million mandatorily preferred convertible equity commitment from the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS), to be funded at the closing of the transaction. Great Plains Energy plans to issue long-term financing consisting of a combination of equity, equity-linked securities and debt prior to closing of the transaction. This financing mix will allow Great Plains Energy to maintain its solid, investment grade credit ratings.
Great Plains Energy expects savings generated from combining the two companies to be consistent with recent comparable transactions, and its own recent experience. Great Plains Energy expects the acquisition will be neutral to earnings-per-share in the first full calendar year of operations and significantly accretive thereafter. The long-term earnings growth target of the combined company is expected to grow to six to eight percent—better than either company on a standalone basis.
Leadership and headquarters
Upon completion of the transaction, Bassham will be chairman and chief executive officer of the combined company. Ruelle will remain in his current role with Westar until the closing of the transaction. In addition, Great Plains Energy will add one director from the Westar Board of Directors to the Great Plains Energy Board of Directors.
“We understand the importance of Westar to the communities it serves and the meaningful contributions it makes as a major employer in Kansas,” said Bassham. “We are committed to maintaining the operating headquarters for our Kansas service territory in downtown Topeka. We also know that Westar has a reputation as a strong supporter of community and charitable initiatives. We will continue this legacy and are committed to maintaining a strong presence in all of the communities Westar serves.”