$4.7B sale of Cleco complete; stockholders to receive $55.37 per share

    The sale of Pineville-based Cleco Corp. to an investor group is complete, the company announced Wednesday.

    The Town Talk reports the purchasing group—led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation and John Hancock Financial, is paying $4.7 billion for Cleco—including assumed and new debt.

    Cleco Corp., whose subsidiary Cleco Power provides electricity to much of central Louisiana, was the region’s only publicly traded company. Shareholders will receive $55.37 per share.

    Bruce Williamson, Cleco’s departing chairman, president and CEO, says the transaction provides “exceptional value for all of our public stakeholders.”

    “Today marks the beginning of the next chapter in Cleco’s proud history,” says Darren Olagues, who became Cleco’s CEO with the close of the transaction. “This transaction includes comprehensive commitments that preserve the core values of our company and protect our customers, our employees and the communities we serve.”

    The Louisiana Public Service Commission approved the sale last month, after initially rejecting it in February.

    Supporters of the sale touted the promises the buyers have made, including $136 million in upfront rate credits to customers and a pledge to not seek a rate increase before the period starting in June 2020.

    The buyers also have promised to keep Cleco headquartered in Pineville and operating independently; maintain current headcount of employees; maintain employee and retiree benefits; maintain charitable and economic development contributions and invest an additional $7 million to an economic development fund to be administered by the state.

    Opponents have argued the debt added to Cleco as part of the deal could expose the company to long-term financial risks. Should those risks harm the company in the future, they argue, Cleco’s customers will pay for it with higher rates. They also worry about what happens if Macquarie looks to sell its stake in Cleco a few years from now.

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