Hydro One, Avista abandon deal after politics sinks $6.7B takeover

Hydro One Ltd. (H.TO) is giving up on its controversial takeover of Avista Corporation.

The two companies announced Wednesday afternoon they have mutually decided to pull the plug on their takeover arrangement that would have seen Toronto-based Hydro One pay $6.7 billion for Avista in a major cross-border expansion into the United States. As a result of the termination, Hydro One will pay Avista a US$103-million fee. 

The deal was announced in July 2017, and got swept up in provincial politics last year when Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt retired and the company’s board of directors resigned en masse after facing persistent criticism from Premier Doug Ford, who dubbed Schmidt the “six-million-dollar man” in a nod to his compensation package. 

Most recently, the transaction was set on its heels after several U.S. regulators blocked the transaction while pointing the finger at the Ontario government intervention – which is Hydro One’s largest shareholder. 

Indeed, Hydro One and Avista said on Wednesday they decided to give up after their deal was denied by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission and Idaho’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which said it was concerned about the “outer limits” of the provincial government’s influence over Hydro One.

“Hydro One’s Board, management and employees remain focused on delivering safe and reliable power, providing exceptional customer service and driving shareholder value,” said Paul Dobson, Hydro One’s acting president and chief executive officer.

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