Ringing in the new year, UtiliCorp United announced that it completed its $190 million merger with St. Joseph Light & Power on Dec. 31, 2000. The union, which has experienced a bumpy ride since its initial announcement in March 1999, creates Missouri’s fourth largest gas distributor and third largest electricity distributor (see NGI, March 8, 1999).

Under the merger agreement, St. Joseph’s stockholders of record on Dec. 29, 2000 will receive 0.7933 shares of UtiliCorp common stock for each of their shares in St. Joseph Light & Power. UtiliCorp said shareholders will be notified by mail of the transfer. St. Joseph’s 66,000 gas and electricity customers in 10 counties in Missouri will continue to be served by the company as a unit of UtiliCorp.

“We are confident that customers will be well served by this combination,” said Robert K. Green, UtiliCorp’s president. “The merger joins two of Missouri’s most experienced utilities, which have adjacent territories.”

In September, the merger was nearly called off due to a fire that occurred at St. Joseph’s Lake Road Power Plant in June. UtiliCorp questioned whether the incident was a breach of contract under the companies’ merger agreement (see NGI, Sept. 25, 2000).

Including this merger, UtiliCorp now serves more than 300,000 gas and electricity customers in the state of Missouri.

In other merger news, UtiliCorp announced late yesterday that it had notified Empire District Electric Co. that the pending merger agreement had been terminated due to the failure in obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals by Dec. 31, 2000. Valued at $800 million when the agreement was first announced in May 1999, the merger would have brought UtiliCorp approximately 145,000 electricity customers in southwest Missouri and five Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas counties that adjoin the state.

“The significant remaining uncertainty of this lengthy regulatory process prevents any reasonable expectations that the merger could ever be completed with balanced benefits accruing to Empire’s customers and the shareholders of both companies,” said Green.

Alex Steis

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