PPL completes acquisition of UK electric distribution business

Source: PPL Corporation

PPL Corporation (NYSE:PPL) has completed its previously announced acquisition of the Central Networks electricity distribution business, the second-largest such business in the United Kingdom. 

PPL, through a U.K. subsidiary, acquired Central Networks from E.ON UK plc for 3.6 billion pounds Sterling ($5.7 billion) in cash, inclusive of certain permitted pre-closing adjustments, and 500 million pounds ($800 million) of existing public debt to be assumed through consolidation. 

To complete closing, PPL used acquisition financing under a syndicated bridge facility arranged by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse. The permanent financing plan includes a combination of common stock, equity units and debt. PPL expects to complete the permanent equity financing in the second quarter of 2011 and the debt financing by the end of the year. 

"This strategic, transformational transaction allows us to further expand our regulated electricity operations in a way that enhances shareowner value and is immediately accretive to 2011 earnings and cash flow," said James H. Miller, PPL's chairman, president and chief executive officer. "Our highly successful, best-in-class U.K. management team is prepared to implement operational improvements and other efficiencies that will benefit customers and contribute additional accretion to PPL earnings in 2012 and beyond." 

As a result of the transaction closing, PPL has increased its 2011 earnings forecast to $2.50 to $2.75 per share, up from the prior forecast of $2.40 to $2.60 per share, excluding transaction-related costs associated with the acquisition of Central Networks. 

Miller said PPL plans to maintain its common stock dividend at the current annualized level of $1.40 per share, as declared by the company's board of directors on Feb. 25, 2011. 

PPL now owns and operates the largest network of electricity delivery companies in the United Kingdom in terms of regulated asset value, at a combined 4.9 billion pounds ($7.8 billion). PPL Corporation companies now will be providing regulated utility services to about 10 million customers in England, Wales, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee.

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