Florida Power & Light's parent company, NextEra Energy, announced Wednesday it has reached a $4.3 billion deal to buy Hawaii's largest utility, Hawaiian Electric Industries.
The transaction includes the assumption of $1.7 billion in HEI debt and excludes HEI's banking subsidiary.
"NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric share a common vision, a more affordable clean energy future for Hawaii," said Connie Lau, Hawaiian Electric's president and chief executive. "While our goals are among the most ambitious in the nation, including increasing renewables to 65 percent, tripling solar and lowering customer bills 20 percent by 2030, we are confident that by leveraging both NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric's expertise and the additional financial resources that NextEra Energy brings, we can meet these targets even sooner."
The merger raises lots of questions about what this means for the Juno Beach-based company. Hawaiian law requires utilities to meet get 70 percent of their supply from clean energy by 2030 and, in Florida, NextEra's largest subsidiary, FPL, has aggressively fought off attempts to establish a similar clean energy goal here.
NextEra has also effectively blocked the emergence of competitive distributive energy generation in Florida with a dominant, take-no-prisoners approach to regulation and politics, while Hawaii has merged as one of the nation's top one of the markets where competitive distributive generation is becoming a reality.
Forbes contributor William Pentland points out that "Hawaii has become a flash point in the battle over the future architecture of the electric grid. The relentless rise of power prices in the state has accelerated customers’ adoption of distributed generation."
That's in stark contrast to Florida where FPL and its parent, NextEra, has kept wholesale competitors out by controlling access to the transmission grid except for incumbent utilities.
"NextEra’s expansion into Hawaii is likely a mixed blessing for the distributed generation business,'' Pentland wrote.
NextEra's press release didn't offer too many answers.
“NextEra Energy shares Hawaiian Electric’s vision of increasing renewable energy, modernizing its grid, reducing Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil, integrating more rooftop solar energy and, importantly, lowering customer bills,” it said.
The transaction is subject to approval by regulators and Hawaiian Electric shareholders.
Here's the joint press release:
In connection with the agreement, HEI separately today announced a plan to spin off ASB Hawaii, the parent company of American Savings Bank (ASB), to HEI shareholders and establish it as an independent publicly traded company. The American Savings Bank spinoff is expected to be tax-free to HEI shareholders and to be completed immediately prior to and contingent upon the combination of NextEra Energy with HEI. As described further herein, the total value to HEI shareholders, excluding assumed debt and including a one-time special cash dividend to HEI shareholders and the current estimated value of American Savings Bank of approximately $8.00 per share, is estimated to be $3.5 billion or approximately $33.50 per HEI share.
"Today's announcement marks an important milestone for both our companies as we seek to leverage our respective strengths, commitments to our customers and the communities we serve and the mutual goal of building a cleaner energy future," said Jim Robo, chairman and chief executive officer of NextEra Energy. "We are proud that Hawaiian Electric has agreed to join our company in large part because of our shared vision to bring cleaner, renewable energy to Hawaii, while at the same time helping to reduce energy costs for Hawaiian Electric's customers. Today, Hawaiian Electric is addressing a vast array of complex and interrelated issues associated with the company's clean energy transformation. We believe our strengths are additive to Hawaiian Electric's, creating an opportunity to enhance value for Hawaii's strategically important energy industry. We look forward to welcoming and working with the Hawaiian Electric team, as well as engaging with and listening to key stakeholders, including Hawaiian Electric's customers and communities, to achieve a more affordable clean energy future."
"This is a transformational opportunity to unlock the value of two strong, local companies, American Savings Bank and Hawaiian Electric," said Connie Lau, HEI's president and chief executive officer and chairman of the boards of American Savings and Hawaiian Electric. "In NextEra Energy, Hawaiian Electric is gaining a trusted partner that can help the company accelerate its plans to achieve the clean energy future we all want for Hawaii. NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric share a common vision, a more affordable clean energy future for Hawaii. While our goals are among the most ambitious in the nation, including increasing renewables to 65 percent, tripling solar and lowering customer bills 20 percent by 2030, we are confident that by leveraging both NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric's expertise and the additional financial resources that NextEra Energy brings, we can meet these targets even sooner. What's more, HEI's shareholders will realize significant value for their shares by participating in the upside potential of the combined company and the future growth of American Savings Bank, one of Hawaii's leading banks. All in all, we believe this transaction will benefit both our utility and bank customers, our employees, our community, our shareholders and Hawaii."
Common Vision, Common Goals: Meeting Hawaii's Clean Energy Needs
The transaction brings together two industry leaders in clean and renewable energy. The Hawaiian Electric Companies – Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light – have put Hawaii on the leading edge of clean energy nationally, successfully integrating rooftop solar with 11 percent of their customers and helping achieve 20 percent renewable energy. NextEra Energy adds its strength as the nation's leading clean energy company. NextEra Energy shares Hawaiian Electric's vision of increasing renewable energy, modernizing its grid, reducing Hawaii's dependence on imported oil, integrating more rooftop solar energy and, importantly, lowering customer bills. Hawaiian Electric has filed plans with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that seek to enhance Hawaii's energy future by lowering electric bills, giving customers more service options and nearly tripling the amount of distributed solar, while achieving among the nation's highest levels of renewable energy by 2030. NextEra Energy is supportive of Hawaiian Electric's plans to accomplish these goals.
NextEra Energy's principal subsidiaries include Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), one of the nation's largest and most well-respected electric utilities, and NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which together with its affiliated entities (NextEra Energy Resources), is North America's largest producer of renewable energy from the wind and sun. Through NextEra Energy Resources, NextEra Energy brings to bear all the capabilities of a renewable energy leader, including utility-scale and distributed solar, wind and battery storage, as well as the resources to help accelerate Hawaiian Electric's efforts to pursue a new energy future in Hawaii. Together, FPL and NextEra Energy Resources have completed more than $24 billion worth of major capital projects since 2003, overall on time and under budget.
FPL, which was recognized by Market Strategies International as the nation's most trusted electric utility earlier this year, serves approximately 4.7 million customers in a state that, like Hawaii, has no indigenous fossil fuels and was once the largest consumer of oil among all U.S. utilities. Since 2001, FPL has reduced its reliance on foreign oil by more than 99 percent, improved its overall fuel efficiency by 20 percent and saved its customers more than $6.8 billion in fuel costs. FPL's operational excellence has supported low customer bills, including typical residential customer electric bills that are the lowest in Florida for the fifth consecutive year and approximately 25 percent lower than the national average. Additionally, FPL's highly efficient generation fleet is one of the cleanest and most modern among utilities nationwide. FPL also has developed, built and operates one of the nation's most modern grid networks and offers the highest reliability among Florida's investor-owned utilities, ranking in the top quartile nationally, with more than 99.98 percent reliability. FPL recently was presented with two prestigious reliability-related awards by PA Consulting Group – Outstanding Technology and Innovation in the U.S. and Outstanding Reliability Performance in the U.S. South region.
Subject to the terms and conditions of the merger agreement, upon completion of the transaction, HEI shareholders will receive an estimated total value of approximately $33.50 per share, representing an approximately 21 percent premium to HEI's trailing 20-day volume-weighted average price as of the close onDec. 2, 2014. The total value will consist of:
0.2413 shares of NextEra Energy common stock for each HEI share they own, valued at $25.00 per HEI share, based on NextEra Energy's volume-weighted average stock price for the 20 trading days endedDec. 2, 2014;A one-time special cash dividend, to be paid by HEI, of $0.50 per HEI share for shareholders of record as of the date immediately prior to the closing of the transaction; andShares of ASB Hawaii, through the spinoff transaction, with a current estimated value of $8.00 per share based on consensus analyst estimates.In addition, NextEra Energy will also assume approximately $1.60 per HEI share of tax liability for the spinoff of ASB Hawaii. This corporate-level tax liability results in additional value over time of up to $1.60 per share to new ASB Hawaii shareholders through an ASB tax basis step-up. With the exception of the one-time special cash dividend, the overall transaction, including the spinoff of ASB Hawaii, is expected to be tax-free to HEI shareholders.
The transaction expands NextEra Energy's regulated holdings and further balances its earnings mix, and is expected to be neutral to earnings per share for NextEra Energy shareholders in the first full year post-close and accretive thereafter. The transaction is expected to have no impact on NextEra Energy's quarterly dividend policy (the most recently declared quarterly dividend was $0.725 per NextEra Energy common share). Additionally, NextEra Energy remains committed to maintaining a strong balance sheet and will fund the transaction in a manner consistent with its current credit ratings.
Committed to Local Customers, Employees and the Communities We Serve
NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric are committed to ensuring that the combination delivers significant value to all Hawaiian Electric stakeholders. The merger approval application that NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric intend to file within the next 60 days with the Hawaii PUC will demonstrate that the combination will ensure customer interests are protected and that customers will receive measurable and significant value and savings. In addition, the jurisdiction of the Hawaii PUC over Hawaiian Electric will not be diminished as a result of the transaction. The companies look forward to demonstrating the benefits that this transaction will offer Hawaiian Electric's customers and Hawaii.
Upon completion of the transaction, together with FPL and NextEra Energy Resources, Hawaiian Electric will become a third principal business within the NextEra Energy family of companies. Hawaiian Electric will continue to operate under its current name and continue to be headquartered in Honolulu. Hawaiian Electric's utilities will continue to be locally managed from their existing operating locations. No involuntary reductions to Hawaiian Electric's workforce are expected as a result of the transaction for at least two years after close, and all of its union labor agreements will be honored.
NextEra Energy has been recognized for an unprecedented eighth consecutive year as No. 1 on the utility industry list of Fortune's "Most Admired Companies" and enjoys a longstanding reputation as a strong corporate citizen throughout the communities in which it operates. Consistent with that, NextEra Energy expects to maintain HEI's overall current level of corporate giving in HEI's communities. NextEra Energy also plans to establish a local Hawaiian Electric advisory board, whose purpose will be to provide input on matters of local and community interest. The advisory board will include six to 12 members, all of whom will have substantial ties to the Hawaii community.
Planned Spinoff of ASB Hawaii
In connection with the agreement, HEI plans to spin off ASB Hawaii to HEI shareholders and establish it as an independent publicly traded company, immediately prior to and contingent upon the completion of the combination of HEI with NextEra Energy.
Under the planned spinoff, HEI shareholders would receive a distribution of stock in ASB Hawaii, pro rata to their ownership interest in HEI. NextEra Energy will assume the corporate tax liability related to the spinoff (estimated to total approximately $1.60 per HEI share). The spinoff is expected to be tax-free for HEI shareholders. In addition, ASB Hawaii's tax basis in its assets is expected to be increased to reflect their fair market value at the time of the spinoff, which is expected to create a deductible amortization of an intangible asset for tax purposes and a corresponding deferred tax asset (DTA) for generally accepted accounting principles purposes, improving regulatory capital ratios and providing improved cash flow by reducing cash taxes as the DTA is amortized. Based on the median of six equity analyst consensus estimates on Dec. 2, 2014, ASB Hawaii's estimated current value is approximately $800 million, or approximately $8.00 per share. This valuation represents 1.7-1.8x tangible book value for ASB Hawaii. Following the spinoff, American Savings Bank expects to realize higher year-over-year fee income due to regaining its exemption from regulatory limits on interchange fees (Durbin Amendment). Prior to losing the Durbin Amendment exemption in 2013, American Savings Bank realized approximately $6 million, after tax, in higher interchange fees.
In addition to Hawaii PUC approval, the transaction also is subject to approval by HEI shareholders, the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, SEC effectiveness of registration statements, the spinoff of ASB Hawaii and additional regulatory approvals and other customary conditions. NextEra Energy and HEI expect the transaction, which has been unanimously approved by both companies' boards of directors, to be completed within approximately 12 months. The spinoff of ASB Hawaii is expected to be completed immediately prior to and is contingent upon the completion of the combination of HEI and NextEra Energy. The spinoff is also subject to customary conditions and formal declaration of the dividend to HEI shareholders of ASB Hawaii stock by the HEI board of directors.
- Nation's leading clean energy company to support Hawaii in achieving a more affordable clean energy future
- Hawaiian Electric Industries shareholders to receive 0.2413 NextEra Energy shares per Hawaiian Electric Industries share and a one-time special cash dividend payment of $0.50 per share
- Transaction expected to be neutral to earnings per share for NextEra Energy shareholders in first full year post-close; accretive thereafter
- Hawaiian Electric Company to maintain name and continue to be based in Honolulu
- No involuntary workforce reductions at Hawaiian Electric Company for at least two years after transaction close
- Hawaiian Electric Industries to spin off ASB Hawaii to Hawaiian Electric Industries' shareholders