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Avangrid, PPL merger would be one of the largest utility mergers this year

Avangrid Inc. and PPL Corp. are reportedly considering a merger that would be by far the year's largest in the utility sector, in a deal valued at more than $67 billion including debt.

The Financial Times article cited unnamed sources on merger talks. A spokesperson for PPL said in an email to S&P Global Market Intelligence that the company "does not comment on market speculation or rumors." Avangrid did not reply to a request for comment.

Orange, Conn.-based Avangrid, which is 81.5% owned by Spanish utility Iberdrola SA, has $33 billion in assets and operations in 24 different U.S. states, including wind, solar and thermal power plants and transmission infrastructure. One of the largest wind operators in the U.S., it has 7.6 GW of installed generation capacity, most of it wind. The company has 18.8 GW of projects in the pipeline, including 4 GW of offshore wind, according to its 2018 annual report. S&P Global Ratings gives the company a BBB+ credit rating with a stable outlook.

Its two primary lines of business are Avangrid Networks Inc. and Avangrid Renewables LLC.

New Gloucester, Maine-based Avangrid Networks, created in 2013, owns eight electric and natural gas utilities with 3.2 million customers in New York and New England.

Avangrid Networks companies include Pittsfield, Mass.-based Berkshire Gas Co., which serves 40,000 customers; Augusta, Maine-based Central Maine Power Co., which serves 624,000 customers in its electricity, transmission and distribution operations; Brunswick, Maine-based Maine Natural Gas, which delivers natural gas to 4,800 customers in the state; Rochester, N.Y.-based New York State Electric & Gas Corp., which serves 894,000 electricity customers and 266,000 natural gas customers in upstate New York; Rochester, N.Y.-based RGS Energy Group Inc., which serves 378,000 electricity customers and 313,000 natural gas customers across nine counties in the state; Rochester, N.Y.-based Rochester Gas and Electric Corp., which serves 381,000 customers in its regulated electricity transmission, distribution and generation operations, and also serves 316,000 natural gas customers in a 2,700 square-mile service territory; and New Haven, Conn.-based UIL Holdings Corp., which serves 727,000 electric and natural gas utility customers in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

One of Avangrid Renewables' biggest projects is Central Maine Power Co.'s $1.1 billion, 145-mile New England Clean Energy Connect transmission line, which is under regulatory review.

Portland, Ore.-based Avangrid Renewables LLC develops, builds, generates and operates wind energy. It operates 6.7 GW of onshore wind and has 6 GW in its pipeline. It also has 4.9 GW of solar in its pipeline as well as 5 GW of offshore wind. Through Vineyard Wind LLC, a joint venture between Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners K/S, it is developing the 800-MW Vineyard Offshore Wind Project. Vineyard Wind is also competing in Massachusetts' second solicitation for offshore wind proposals of up to 800 MW, as well as in Connecticut's offshore wind solicitation for up to 1,200 MW.

Allentown, Penn.-based PPL Corp. serves more than 10 million customers in the U.S. and United Kingdom. Its top institutional investor, with an 8.31% stake, is BlackRock Inc. The company plans to invest more than $15 billion through 2022 in new infrastructure and technology.

Subsidiaries include Louisville, Kentucky-based LG&E and KU Energy LLC which serves nearly 1.3 million customers in Kentucky and Virginia, and Allentown, Penn.-based PPL Electric Utilities Corp., an electric transmission and distribution company that serves 1.4 million customers in 29 counties and also maintains 50,000 miles of power lines.

In the U.K., PPL subsidiary Western Power Distribution PLC operates and electricity distribution network in Midlands, South Wales and South West England, serving 7.9 million users in a 55,500 square kilometer service area. The company's U.K. assets accounted for about 29% of PPL's revenues in 2018.