Bryn Mawr’s Aqua America May Have Bid $11 Billion for Michigan Power Company

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Christopher Franklin, CEO of Aqua America. Photo courtesy of Business Wire.

Bryn Mawr’s Aqua America is best known in business circles for its acquisitions of local water and sewer utilities.

According to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer, new public documents have shown why the company has such a reputation, as they suggest it made an $11 billion bid for ITC Holdings, an electric-power company based in Michigan.

“We won’t comment on any potential acquisition,” Aqua America spokeswoman Donna Alston told the Inquirer’s Joseph N. DiStefano.

According to DiStefano, “new CEO Christopher Franklin told investors earlier this year that Aqua is still looking to buy municipal water utilities, adding that the company is also open to ‘Strategic M&A’ and ‘Opportunistic Growth,’ and to ‘market-based’ businesses that would help Aqua profitably invest capital and apply its regulatory and operating expertise beyond water supply.”

In the meantime, ITC has agreed to be acquired by Canada-based Fortis Inc. for $11.3 billion, or $44.90 a share. However, according to Fortis’s F-4 merger statement, “on January 16, 2016, a director of ITC affiliated with Party G, a U.S. publicly-traded company, informed (ITC) that Party G might be interested in exploring a potential merger of Party G and ITC” at a price of around $45 a share.

The only two directors of ITC currently “affiliated” with public companies, according to ITC’s list, are Franklin, and Lee Stewart, who also serves on the board of AEP Inc. DiStefano wrote that “an ITC deal would be a big step for Aqua, whose stock market value is around $6.4 billion, less than the offer value. As a water utility, Aqua trades at a fat premium to ITC’s recent share price, giving it more muscle to buy with.”

Steven Fleischman, an analyst at Wolfe Research in New York, identified Aqua and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway as companies that had tried to buy ITC before Fortis sealed the deal.

Click here to read more of the Inquirer’s coverage.

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