Aqua America Announces New Name, Leadership Team Ahead of Acquisition of Gas Company


Image via Aqua America.

Aqua America has announced its new company name, Essential Utilities, Inc., that will take effect on Monday, Feb. 3. Also, the company is also announcing the members of the executive leadership team that will report to Chairman and CEO Christopher Franklin.

The announcement comes after the Peoples acquisition received regulatory approval at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s Jan. 16 meeting.

In October 2018, Aqua announced it would acquire Peoples, a natural gas distribution company based in Pittsburgh, in an all-cash transaction that reflects an enterprise value of $4.275 billion. The acquisition marks the creation of a new infrastructure company uniquely positioned to have a powerful impact on improving infrastructure reliability, quality of life, and economic prosperity in the areas it serves.

Effective at the close of the transaction, Peoples will become a subsidiary of Essential, with the company tagline “Providing natural resources for life.” Essential’s common stock will begin trading under the NYSE ticker symbol WTRG on Feb. 3.

Essential will provide a unique combination of experienced regulated utility companies that offers essential services to customers and a unique investment opportunity for shareholders.

“The team has gone through an extensive exercise to explore our purpose and promise for our customers and communities, employees and shareholders, and Essential captured the essence of what we aim to be for our stakeholders,” Franklin said. “Water and natural gas are vital services that play an important role in sustaining and enhancing life. As stewards of these services, we have a responsibility to protect the public and our employees through operational excellence and integrity in all we do.”

The company and Peoples are committed to continuing to provide exceptional service to their customers. The companies’ existing websites will still serve customers’ information and transactional needs. There are no immediate plans to rebrand these operating companies. The company’s headquarters will remain in Bryn Mawr, and Peoples will remain in Pittsburgh.

There will be no need for the company’s shareholders to exchange stock certificates in connection with the corporate name change.

More information will be available here. The new website will be live on Feb. 3.

Aqua also announced the Essential executive leadership team that will report to Franklin at the close of the Peoples transaction:

  • Richard Fox, executive vice president, chief operating officer
  • Christopher Luning, executive vice president, general counsel
  • Matthew Rhodes, executive vice president, strategy and corporate development
  • Daniel Schuller, executive vice president, chief financial officer
  • Ruth DeLost-Wylie, senior vice president, business transformation
  • Susan Haindl, senior vice president, chief administrative officer
  • Christina Kelly, senior vice president, chief human resources officer
  • Brian Dingerdissen, vice president, chief of staff, investor relations and communications
  • Kimberly Joyce, vice president, regulatory and government affairs

“These individuals are proven leaders in their areas of expertise, staunchly committed to the success of our company’s mission,” Franklin said. “The team has my full confidence and includes those who I most trust and rely on to deliver exceptional customer and employee experience and shareholder value.”

Also, Joseph Gregorini, currently Peoples chief operating officer, will lead the natural gas utilities for all states as president, and Colleen Arnold, currently Aqua’s deputy chief operating officer, will lead the water and wastewater utilities for all states as president.

Both operating company presidents will report to Fox, who said, “Joe and Colleen are experienced leaders and utility professionals. They are well-prepared for these new assignments, and we’re fortunate to have such strong and experienced executives to guide our utilities into this exciting phase of our combined companies’ history.”

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