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FirstEnergy to Sell Stake in Transmission Unit to Brookfield


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(Bloomberg) –FirstEnergy Corp. agreed to sell a stake in its transmission businesses to Brookfield Asset Management Inc. for $2.4 billion.

The Akron, Ohio-based utility will sell a 19.9% stake in FirstEnergy Transmission to Brookfield’s infrastructure group, according to a statement Sunday.

Separately, FirstEnergy will issue $1 billion in common stock to Blackstone Inc. at $39.08 per share. Blackstone will get a seat on FirstEnergy’s board as part of the transaction. The statement confirms an earlier Bloomberg News report on the deal.

The “transformative strategic equity financings” will “be key catalysts to fulfill our long-term strategy and drive smart grid and clean energy initiatives,” Steve Strah, FirstEnergy’s president and chief executive officer, said in the statement.

FirstEnergy has been working to improve the reliability and resiliency of its grid, while also integrating more renewable energy resources and electric-vehicle charging infrastructure.

“We are excited about our strategic investment in FirstEnergy,” said Sean Klimczak, global head of infrastructure at Blackstone. “The company is well positioned for accelerated growth.”

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FirstEnergy’s transmission subsidiaries, which include American Transmission Systems, Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission and Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Co., operate more than 24,000 miles (39,000 kilometers) of transmission lines that connect the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions.

The announcement comes months after FirstEnergy reached an agreement with federal prosecutors over a corruption case involving a $1 billion state bailout for nuclear power plants. Under a deferred-prosecution agreement, FirstEnergy admitted that it conspired with public officials and others to pay millions of dollars in bribes. The company agreed to pay $230 million, the largest criminal penalty ever imposed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio.

Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. were financial advisers to FirstEnergy on the sale of the stake in the transmission unit, and JPMorgan was the lead placement agent on the equity issuance. Moelis & Co. advised the company’s board on both transactions.

FirstEnergy’s shares closed at $39.07 in New York Friday, giving the utility a market valuation of about $21 billion.



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