UtiliCorp and United Energy Submit $189 Million Winning Bid for
Western Australia's AlintaGas
Business Editors & Energy Writers
KANSAS CITY, Mo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 31, 2000--UtiliCorp United (NYSE:UCU) today announced that its $US189 million joint bid with United Energy Limited for 45 percent of AlintaGas, a gas distribution utility in Western Australia, has been accepted by the state's government.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of October.
AlintaGas is based in Perth, Australia, and serves 400,000 customers. It is Western Australia's principal gas distributor. The remaining 55 percent of the company will be offered to the public in Australia in a share float scheduled for September.
"We are extremely pleased to again be able to expand our interests in Australia," said Robert K. Green, president and chief operating officer of UtiliCorp and chairman of United Energy. "AlintaGas is a well-positioned business and complements our existing Australian business very well. We expect this transaction to be slightly accretive to UtiliCorp earnings in its first year of operations."
UtiliCorp entered the Australian energy market in 1995 as a member of the partnership that acquired United Energy from the state of Victoria. It currently owns 34 percent of United Energy, which has 560,000 customers. It also holds a 50 percent economic interest in Multinet Gas, a gas distribution company with 520,000 customers that is managed by United Energy. Ue Comm, owned by United Energy, provides fiber-optic networks in three Australian cities for broadband telecommunications.
Based in Kansas City, UtiliCorp United is an international electric and gas company with energy customers and operations across the U.S. and in Canada, the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Germany, Spain, New Zealand and Australia. At March 31, 2000, UtiliCorp had total assets of $US7.5 billion and 12-month sales of $US19.6 billion. Additional information is available at www.utilicorp.com.
The full text of a press release issued by United Energy earlier today in Australia follows (all dollar amounts expressed in Australian currency):
31 July 2000
UtiliCorp & United Energy Win Bid for AlintaGas
UtiliCorp United and United Energy Limited are pleased to announce that their consortium has been successful in bidding for the 45 percent cornerstone shareholding in the Western Australian gas utility, AlintaGas.
The Western Australian State Government today named the UtiliCorp-United Energy consortium as the successful cornerstone investor, with a bid price of $319.5 million.
The remaining 55 percent of the AlintaGas equity is intended to be sold through a public float. The Government has advised it plans to list the Company on the Australian Stock Exchange in October 2000.
UtiliCorp Senior Vice-President, Corporate Development, Paul Perkins, said the group was delighted to have the opportunity to invest in this outstanding utility asset.
"AlintaGas is a well-run business positioned in one of the most exciting energy regions in the world," said Mr Perkins.
"This is an exciting opportunity for UtiliCorp and our partner United Energy. Our decision to make this long-term investment highlights our commitment to the Australasian market which now represents 11 percent of our total assets.
"Our investment in AlintaGas is an important addition to our portfolio of energy assets in the region."
United Energy Chief Executive Officer Don Bacon said the AlintaGas investment was a perfect fit and added a new geographic dimension to the regulated assets of United Energy and UtiliCorp in Australia.
"From what we've seen, AlintaGas is a business in excellent shape which is well positioned to take advantage of many new opportunities," said Mr. Bacon.
"AlintaGas has a pre-eminent position in the Western Australian market, and we look forward to assisting AlintaGas grow its business and broaden its range of activities."
United Energy and UtiliCorp are equal partners in the consortium.
United Energy is one of Australia's fastest-growing energy companies. Its core business is the distribution of electricity to 550,000 connections in Melbourne's south, east and the Mornington Peninsula and the management of 590,000 gas connections in Melbourne's north and east.
United Energy has a 25% shareholding in Pulse Energy, a retail company which sells energy to more than one million customers in Victoria.
EdgeCap, a United Energy subsidiary, is an energy merchant business that buys and sells electricity in the wholesale market, trades related commodities, and sells risk management products.
United Energy also offers energy retailers a range of back office services including call centre, metering, billing and account collection functions. United Energy's telecommunications business has developed fibre optic networks in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. United Energy is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and has more than 52,000 predominantly Australian shareholders. AMP and UtiliCorp own 57.8% of United Energy.