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Great Plains, Westar shareholders OK merger

Great Plains Energy Inc. and Westar Energy Inc. on Nov. 21 said their shareholders approved a revised plan for the two Midwestern companies to merge.

The revised agreement unveiled in July involves no transaction debt, no exchange of cash and is a stock-for-stock merger of equals, creating a company with a combined equity value of roughly $15 billion, the companies said. The new company will serve about 1 million electric customers in Kansas and nearly 600,000 customers in Missouri and will own about 13,000 MW of generation capacity.

The companies said in a joint news release that more than 90% of the shares voted at each company approved the deal.

Kansas City, Mo.-headquartered Great Plains and Topeka, Kan.-headquartered Westar first announced their intent to merge in May 2016. At that time, Great Plains proposed to acquire Westar in an $8.6 billion cash-and-stock deal under which it also would have assumed approximately $3.6 billion in Westar debt.

The Kansas Corporation Commission in April rejected that plan, finding that it was too risky and not in the public interest because the merged company would not be financially strong compared with the stand-alone companies. The companies in August and September asked the KCC, Missouri Public Service Commission and FERC to approve the revised proposal.

Kansas and Missouri regulators have since set schedules to consider the revised proposal.

The KCC on Nov. 21 released a schedule that sets evidentiary hearings in March 2018, with an order due by June 5, 2018. (KCC Docket No. 18-KCPE-095-MER) The Missouri Public Service Commission in October agreed to hold hearings in March 2018. (Missouri PSC Case No. EM-2018-0012)