UtiliCorp pulls plug on Empire District merger

Kansas City-based UtiliCorp United Inc. Tuesday said it is pulling the plug on its proposed $800 million merger with the Empire District Electric Co. due to regulatory uncertainties. In a letter to Myron W. McKinney, Empire District president and chief executive officer, UtiliCorp Pres. Robert K. Green, noted under the terms of the agreement, either company could terminate the deal if regulatory approvals of the merger were not obtained by Dec. 31, 2000.

Jan 3rd, 2001


Kansas City-based UtiliCorp United Inc. Tuesday said it is pulling the plug on its proposed $800 million merger with the Empire District Electric Co. due to regulatory uncertainties.

In a letter to Myron W. McKinney, Empire District president and chief executive officer, UtiliCorp Pres. Robert K. Green, noted under the terms of the agreement, either company could terminate the deal if regulatory approvals of the merger were not obtained by Dec. 31, 2000.

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

In commenting on the withdrawal from the merger by UtiliCorp, McKinney said, "Until today Empire has moved forward fully anticipating closing the merger, and although we are disappointed that UtiliCorp has chosen to terminate the agreement, we will continue providing the quality services that our customers expect and deserve while providing a fair and reasonable return to our shareholders.''

In Tuesday trading on the New York Stock Exchange, UtiliCorp closed down 1 5/8 to 29 3/8 and Empire closed down 7/16 at 25 7/8.

The proposed merger, reported May 11, 1999, required approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and state utility commissions in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

To date, full approvals have been granted only by FERC, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, and Oklahoma. Arkansas rejected the merger and both companies have appealed that decision. Further, Missouri approved the merger, but rejected the companies' regulatory plan in support of it, and Kansas has yet to take action.

Based in Kansas City, UtiliCorp United is a multinational energy company with about 4 million customers. It operates in the US, Canada, the UK, Spain, Germany, Norway, New Zealand, and Australia. At Sept. 30, 2000, UtiliCorp had $10 billion in assets and 12-month sales of $23 billion.

Empire District, Joplin, Mo., serves about 145,000 electric customers in southwest Missouri and in five Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas counties that adjoin the state.

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