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Sempra wins key stakeholder support in Oncor bid

Sempra Energy has reached an agreement with several key Texas stakeholders in support of its bid to acquire Energy Future Holdings Corp.'s indirect majority interest in Oncor Electric Delivery Co. LLC.

Since launching its bid to buy Energy Future Intermediate Holding Co. LLC's 80% stake in Oncor in August, Sempra is demonstrating results in its push to woo key Texas stakeholders. The San Diego, Calif.-headquartered utility on Dec. 14 announced that it entered into a settlement agreement supporting the deal with regulatory staff at the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Office of Public Utility Counsel, as well as the Steering Committee of Cities Served by Oncor and the Texas Industrial Energy Consumers group.

The agreement stipulates that the parties believe Sempra's bid, "is in the public interest, meets Texas statutory standards, and will bring substantial benefits," to Texas ratepayers, and they will ask the PUCT to approve the deal. Under terms of the transaction, Sempra would acquire the 80% stake for $9.45 billion in cash, plus the assumption of about $7 billion in net debt.

"We strongly believe that this transaction will benefit Oncor customers and the state of Texas, and we are working with the PUCT to facilitate its comprehensive review of our proposal," Sempra CEO, President and Chairman Debra Reed said in a statement.

"Sempra Energy has demonstrated its ability to be a great partner for Texas through its willingness to work with stakeholders across the state," Oncor CEO Bob Shapard said. "This settlement agreement moves us one step closer to ending the EFH bankruptcy process."

In October, Sempra revised its proposed financing package to acquire Oncor, opting to cut out potential third-party sponsors in lieu of acquiring the Texas transmission owner with the use of its own balance sheet. The revised financing structure was intended to further ease the concerns of Texas stakeholders with an acquisition by multiple owners.

The PUCT is scheduled to complete their view of the merger application by April 2018, according to the news release, with a proposed hearing in February 2018. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved Sempra's acquisition of the Oncor majority stake on Dec. 11.