ITC Holdings Corp., the electric-transmission company that put itself up for sale last year, has drawn bids from Borealis Infrastructure Management Inc. and Fortis Inc., people with knowledge of the matter said.
Borealis and Fortis aren’t the only bidders, said the people, without naming the other suitors. ITC’s advisers solicited offers last month, initially seeking to reach a deal by the end of January, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
The process has been slowed by recent volatility in the global debt and equity markets, one of the people said. ITC may select a buyer later this month, and may still opt to remain independent, the person said. The Novi, Michigan-based company’s shares climbed 1.1 percent Monday to $40.33, giving it a market value of about $6.2 billion.
Spokesmen for ITC and Fortis declined to comment. A representative of Borealis didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mergers among U.S. utilities have increased in the past six months, as weak power demand spurs large utilities to seek out growth by acquiring smaller players that have gas-related infrastructure or regulated infrastructure. Regulated markets feature utilities that own or control the entire flow of electricity from generation to meter. Dominion Resources Inc. said Monday it agreed to pay $4.4 billion for Questar Corp., a gas distributor.
ITC is the only publicly traded “pure-play” electric transmission company in the U.S., which means its sole business is overseeing a network of high-voltage transmission lines that extends from Minnesota to Louisiana. Other utilities such as Entergy Corp. have transmission networks and also control nuclear and coal power plants.
Since electric transmission is stable and predictable, ITC is particularly attractive to infrastructure investors such as Borealis that like to make long bets on safe assets.
Toronto-based Borealis manages infrastructure investments for the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, or Omers, one of Canada’s largest pension funds. Borealis had expressed interest in buying SourceGas LLC, people familiar with the matter said in June, a month before that utility agreed to sell to Black Hills Corp.
Fortis is Canada’s second-largest utility network by market value, behind Hydro One Ltd., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Fortis has nine gas and electric utilities in Canada, the U.S., and Caribbean, serving more than 3 million customers, according to a recent investor presentation. It has been expanding into the U.S. in recent years, buying a utility in Arizona in 2014, and another one in New York. Buying ITC would extend Fortis’s reach into the Midwestern U.S.
Fortis shares rose 13 Canadian cents to C$40.61 in Toronto Monday, giving the St. John’s-based company a market value of about C$11.4 billion ($8.2 billion).