Spanish energy giant Iberdrola, which owns Central Maine Power Co.’s parent company, Avangrid Inc., is making a nearly $2.5 billion play for full control of its U.S. subsidiary and its extensive gas and electricity utilities in the Northeast.

Avangrid said Thursday it received a nonbinding proposal, but not an offer, from Iberdrola to buy the more than 18% of shares not already owned by the Spanish company.

Iberdrola offered $34.25 a share in cash, 10% above the weighted average price over the last 30 days. Iberdrola, which owns about 81.6% of Avangrid stock, pegged the value of the deal at $2.48 billion.

Share prices surged Thursday, closing at $36.24, up 13% from the previous day. Shares fell more than 1% by mid-day Friday, to $35.83.

Iberdrola said its objective is to increase its exposure to Avangrid’s network of electricity and gas utilities in the U.S. “at a key time for Iberdrola, which wants to grow in markets with high credit ratings and regulated businesses such as networks.”

Avangrid owns eight electric and natural gas utilities in New England and New York with a rate base of $11.7 billion and 3.3 million customers.


In addition to CMP, holdings include Maine Natural Gas Corp., the Berkshire Gas Co. in Massachusetts, Connecticut Natural Gas Corp., New York State Electric & Gas Corp., Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. in New York, the Southern Connecticut Gas Co., and United Illuminating Co. in Connecticut.

CMP is Maine’s largest electric utility, with more than 635,000 electricity customers in central and southern parts of the state.

It’s unclear what, if any, impact the Iberdrola deal would have on Maine ratepayers if it is ultimately agreed upon. As a regulated business, Avangrid must get permission from the state Public Utilities Commission for changes that affect its customers.

Mike Doyle, senior equity analyst for utilities at Edward Jones, said Iberdrola’s proposal is a “little puzzling.

“Basically, it has control of the company,” he said.

Avangrid’s network of regulated businesses operates in states with political and regulatory environments that are generally more favorable to ratepayers than investors, he said. Avangrid also has “had some trouble hitting operating performance,” he said in an interview.


“There’s a lot going on,” Doyle said. “You could own other utilities, and investors have taken the opportunity to do that.”

Before Avangrid and Iberdrola announced the proposal, Avangrid’s share price was down 14% from a year ago.

Iberdrola’s purchase price proposal is “not much of a premium” and may be an “indication to see if there is interest,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity to negotiate, I suppose,” Doyle said.

Avangrid early this year dropped an $8.3 billion merger deal with PNM Resources, a New Mexico energy holding company. Regulators refused to approve the transaction more than three years after it was announced.

Iberdrola reaped $6 billion last year after selling most of its Mexican assets, including gas plants and a wind farm.

Avangrid said its board will review, negotiate and approve or reject the proposal “as well as any other alternative proposals or other strategic alternatives that may be available.” The deal would have to be approved by shareholders.

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