Canada's Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. has struck a $2.4 billion cash deal to buy Empire District Electric Co.
The deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017, would expand the company's regulated utility footprint in the Midwest and shift its business mix to regulated utility operations.
The acquisition, company officials said, would boost Algonquin's per-share profit by 7% to 9% a year and its funds from operations by 12% to 14% for the first three years and support its target of increasing its annual dividend by 10%.
Under the terms of the deal, Empire's stockholders would get $34 a share, a 21% premium over Tuesday's closing price. If approved, Empire would become a subsidiary of Algonquin's Liberty Utilities but remain based in Joplin, Mo.
Empire's shares rose 15% to $32.37 in late trading, topping the company's record.
Empire serves about 218,000 customers in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Ontario-based Algonquin said it would finance the deal largely through debt. The deal, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said, would push its adjusted funds from operations-to-debt ratio below 14%, prompting the rating firm to change its outlook to negative and signaling a possible downgrade.
Also Tuesday, Canadian utility operator Fortis Inc. disclosed a $6.9 billion offer for U.S. electricity-transmission company ITC Holdings Corp.-----------------------------------------------