U.S. $12 bln utility coupling lacks spark

May 31, 2016

Great Plains Energy’s deal for larger neighbor Westar has the modest premium and coy savings target typical in deals between regulated firms. Even if synergies come in higher than hinted, customers may get any surplus. Investors may be right to worry that the buyer is overpaying.

Allianz coal ban will change investment climate

November 24, 2015

The German insurer is to pull $4.3 bln out of investment in coal companies, ditching its scepticism against blanket anti-carbon policies. This rethink suggests big asset managers are taking climate change seriously. Other carbon-heavy industries like oil and cement may be next.

Li Ka-shing’s power deal is at risk of a jolt

September 29, 2015

The tycoon’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure unit wants to buy cash-rich affiliate Power Assets for $11.6 bln in stock. Investors have the motive and the means to push for better terms. But they need to believe the rewards of a sweetened offer outweigh the risks of Li walking away.

Rob Cox: Immelt pins GE colors to Alstom’s mast

By Rob Cox
September 10, 2015

If the revised math actually works, buying the French energy provider is a steal of a deal. GE’s big acquisition also serves as a symbol of its shrewd refocus on industry over finance. On this 14th anniversary of being at the helm, Jeff Immelt is staking his legacy on Alstom.

Southern’s $12 bln deal could find true north

August 24, 2015

The hefty 38 pct premium it’s paying for AGL looks rich for the utility sector. Though Southern isn’t giving a synergy figure, hacking out over 6 percent of costs would help justify the price. Previous mergers like Duke’s acquisition of Progress at least suggest it’s achievable.

Forget ethics, carbon divestment looks profitable

June 11, 2015

Norway’s state fund and insurer AXA are ditching carbon-rich companies. The rhetoric may be ideological, but the economic case against coal and legacy utilities is strong. They face tough challenges, even if political action against climate change remains lacklustre.

Water woes could open taps on corporate risk

January 5, 2015

Two-thirds of the world’s biggest companies are worried about access to water. But few are well prepared for problems. That should change as ways to track and address concerns grow. And if bosses don’t take the initiative, activist investors may force them to.

UK faces risk of cold-weather blackouts

December 30, 2014

Britain’s electricity system is ageing and the mix of generating technology is changing. Both factors increase the danger of power cuts at peak times. Contingency plans include paying companies to accept temporary grid outages. New capacity can’t come soon enough.

Solar upstarts and utilities head for uneasy truce

December 16, 2014

The soaring popularity of solar panels in the U.S. cuts carbon emissions but upsets utilities trying to make a return on grid investments. The industry’s attempts to slap fees on solar users sparked uproar in 2014. A new cost-sharing approach may take the heat out of the debate.

E.ON’s “bad power” spinoff promises little upside

December 1, 2014

Germany’s largest utility is exiting conventional generation, bundling unwanted risk into a new company to be handed to shareholders. E.ON can concentrate on distribution and clean electricity. Both managements will benefit from focus. Still, the new entity’s prospects are bleak.