FERC approves EdF upping stake in Constellation Energy

MARYLAND - U.S. regulators approved an offer by French power giant EdF to buy nearly half of U.S.

-based Constellation Energy's nuclear operations for $4.5 billion.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said in a statement that the commission found the deal consistent with the public interest and also approved an option for the sale of up to $2 billion in other non-nuclear assets.

The commission said it found the transactions "will not adversely affect competition, rates or regulation."

Maryland regulators are still considering whether the proposal falls under their jurisdiction. Constellation is the parent of Baltimore Gas & Electric, the state's largest utility, but the nuclear operations are no longer regulated by the state.

Constellation Energy spokesman Rob Gould said the company was pleased to receive FERC approval and looks forward to "continuing toward finalizing the transaction with EdF."

The deal announced late last year will give state-controlled EdF a 49.99 percent stake in Constellation Energy Nuclear Group LLC. Nuclear power accounts for 61 percent of Constellation's total electric power generation. The companies already have a joint venture to plan new nuclear projects in the U.S.

The EdF offer trumped a rival bid championed by MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., a unit of billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. MidAmerican bid $4.7 billion for all of Constellation Energy last fall as the company struggled to find cash. Shareholders later argued MidAmerican was offering too little and Constellation Energy eventually said it decided to explore EdF's proposal.

Just recently, Constellation posted a posted a fourth-quarter loss mainly related to charges stemming from the canceled MidAmerican deal. The company reported a net loss of $1.41 billion, or $7.75 per share, compared with a profit of $258.1 million, or $1.42 per share, a year earlier. The charges and other special items reduced the latest quarter's results by $7.78 per share. Excluding those items, Constellation posted adjusted earnings of 3 cents per share.


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