Unicom Plans Acquisitions after Plant Sale
Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) parent Unicom is planning a shopping
spree that could include one or several major gas or water
distribution companies or a communications company, Unicom Chairman
and CEO John W. Rowe said this week at the company's annual
Unicom will have a large chunk of cash left over from the sale
of 9,772 MW in coal- and gas-fired baseload and peaking plants. The
company received about $1.76 billion over book value in the largest
divestiture yet of a utility's fossil-fueled power plants when
Edison International's independent power subsidiary bought the
facilities for $5 billion in March.
Unicom plans to use some of the proceeds from that sale to write
down the value of its 10 nuclear power plants, but that should not
affect the amount of cash on hand for acquisitions.
"1998 was our first year working under the provisions of the
Illinois Restructuring Act," said Rowe. "Our earnings beat most
expectations, our nuclear fleet surpassed its goals and we
clarified our strategic direction.
"Rebounding from our 1997 write-offs, we recorded net income of
$510 million or $2.35 per common share in 1998, despite delivering
a 15% base rate reduction to our residential customers and dealing
with some of the most severe blows Mother Nature and more
coincidence could muster," said Rowe. "We also reduced our
operating and maintenance expenses by 8% and increased off-system
sales revenues by $274 million."
With more than $7 billion in revenue in 1998, Unicom provides
service to over 3.4 million customers across northern Illinois or
70% of the state's population.
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