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FERC gives final OK for equity fund taking El Paso Electric private in $4B deal

El Paso montage courtesy Wikipedia.

An acquisition announced more than a year ago came a final step closer to closing with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval this week.

FERC issued its final order signing off on the Infrastructure Investments Fund (IIF) acquisition of El Paso Electric. It was the final regulatory approval needed to complete the EPE-IIF transaction.

The two sides first revealed in June 2019 that IIF was paying more than $4 billion in buying the south Texas utility. If it closes as expected on Wednesday, then El Paso Electric shares—which closed at $68.40 per share on the New York Stock Exchange as of Monday­—will cease to be listed for trading.

“This transaction will help support the success of our region and company by focusing on workforce retention and development, providing bill credits to all customers, supporting $1.2 million in philanthropic giving in our community and creating a regional economic sustainability development fund,” reads a statement by the El Paso utility. “We are excited for the tremendous opportunity this creates for EPE and our local, sustainable, clean energy future.”

The offer by IIF, as it was first announced, included commitments to keep both union, non-union and management employees in place. El Paso Electric will continue as an independently operated, regulated utility, according to the plan.

Customers will receive a total $21 million in bill credits over three years. And the two parties will create a community economic sustainability fund to invest $100 million over two decades to fund growth and economic development in the utility’s service area.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas approved the acquisition earlier this year. In December, EPE announced plans to add its first-ever utility-scale battery storage projects totaling 100 MW and solar totaling 100 MW by 2023. The utility also is planning a new 228-MW gas-fired generation unit in Canutillo, Texas.

El Paso Electric provides generation, transmission and distribution to about 436,000 retail and wholesale customers within the Rio Grande Valley of west Texas and southern New Mexico. Its generation mix include natural gas, solar and energy storage.

The Infrastructure Investments Fund (IIF) is a $12.5 billion private investment vehicle advised by a dedicated infrastructure investment group within J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc. IIF is responsible for investing and growing the retirement funds of more than 40 million families, including 2 million people across Texas and New Mexico who will be invested in El Paso Electric.