The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) granted early termination of the waiting period under antitrust law for Black Hills’ acquisition of Aquila’s electric generation and distribution properties in Colorado and its gas distribution properties in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. The FTC did the same for the proposed merger of Aquila’s Missouri-based electric utility with a subsidiary of Great Plains Energy Inc., the parent of Kansas City Power & Light.

The closing of the Great Plains acquisition is conditioned upon the sale to Black Hills. The dual transactions were announced in February (see Daily GPI, Feb. 8). The Great Plains transaction was being contested by Pirate Capital LLC, a hedge fund investor in Aquila that has sued to block the deal (see Daily GPI, April 18).

“As we have previously stated, we are extremely dissatisfied that the deal with Great Plains Energy and Black Hills Corp. was accepted by management, and cannot believe that such despicable terms for ILA [Aquila] shareholders were even entertained,” Thomas R. Hudson Jr., portfolio manager of Pirate, has said in objecting to the $1.7 billion cash and stock deal, which also includes assumption of $1 billion in Aquila debt.

Aquila spokesman Al Butkus told NGI that Pirate’s stake in Aquila has sunk to 2.5% from a high of 5%. He said Aquila had not heard from Pirate in “several months” and that the fund had “expressed a willingness to dismiss the suit.”

In April Aquila and Black Hills filed state regulatory applications for the transaction, including applications in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

Also Tuesday, Aquila and Great Plains announced special shareholder meetings to vote on their merger. Aquila’s meeting will be at 10 a.m. CDT on Oct. 9 at Adams Pointe Conference Center in Blue Springs, MO. Great Plains’ meeting will be at 10 a.m. CDT on Oct. 10 at Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, MO. The companies have also filed applications with various state and federal authorities (including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the state public service commissions in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska) to obtain necessary approvals.

Based in Kansas City, Aquila owns electric power generation and operates electric and natural gas transmission and distribution networks serving approximately 900,000 customers in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

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