Ameren Said Preparing to Make Final Offer for Utility Westar

  • Great Plains also said to have expressed interest in Westar
  • Final bids for Kansas utility are said to be due May 23

Ameren Corp. is preparing to make a final offer for Westar Energy Inc., the Topeka, Kansas-based utility exploring options including a sale, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Westar, working with Guggenheim Partners, asked interested suitors to submit binding offers by May 23, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. 

Great Plains Energy Inc. also expressed interest in Westar, one of the people said. The Kansas City-based utility has been seeking to partner with a financial investor such as a pension fund or infrastructure fund to help raise the cash necessary to buy its larger rival, the person said. It’s not clear whether Great Plains will move forward with a final offer, or if other potential buyers are still in the mix.

No agreement has been finalized and Westar could decide to remain independent. A decision could come by the end of the month, according to the people familiar with the situation.

Spokeswomen for Westar and Great Plains declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Guggenheim. A representative for Ameren also declined to comment.

Tepid Demand

Westar, the largest utility in Kansas, is considering a sale as tepid power demand and mounting costs spur a flurry of U.S. utilities mergers. Chief Executive Officer Mark Ruelle told investors on a May 4 earnings conference call he wouldn’t comment on any “rumors” surrounding the company.

Ameren, based in St. Louis, provides electricity and natural gas to more than 3 million customers in Missouri and Illinois, according to its website. It has a market value of about $11.8 billion.

Great Plains has more than 838,000 customers in Missouri and Kansas, its website shows.

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