How private-equity firms may consolidate the utilities industry.
Markian Melnyk practices utility and regulatory law at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imagine that you are C. John Wilder, chairman and CEO of TXU Corp., and before you sit several bankers wearing French cuffs. They want to buy your company for cash, with a sweet premium for shareholders. How do you advise your board? Will the bankers be able to close the deal or will they leave TXU tied up for a year or more while regulators, politicians, ratepayer groups, and public-interest advocates take potshots at the deal? What will be your ongoing role in this enterprise? And, if you’re not C. John Wilder but would like to be in his shoes, how would you enhance the curb appeal of your company to attract similar suitors?
With more than 3,000 electric utilities in the United States today, much thought has been given to how this fragmented industry could be consolidated to reduce costs and more efficiently deploy large amounts of capital in new plant. The bankers leading the TXU acquisition consortium, Texas Pacific Group (TPG) and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), have had previous failures with utility acquisitions. Their success in acquiring TXU will depend on whether lessons have been learned from those failures. Their model also may set an example that utility management can replicate.