Berkshire Hathaway has submitted a bid for Texas transmission utility Oncor,according to Bloomberg.
Oncor’s parent company, Energy Future Holdings, values Oncor at a reported $18 billion. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is one of several bidders according to news reports, including NextEra Energy, Edison International and Fidelity Investments.
Selling off Oncor is key to Energy Future’s bankruptcy proceeding, which has been underway for two years. Reuters reports it is one of the largest bankruptcy filings in U.S. history. Energy Future will spin off its power plants and retail business to creditors. That portion of the restructuring could be complete in coming months.
A deal for Oncor had already been struck, but that fell apart in May when a group led by Texas oil and gas firm Hunt Consolidated withdrew its bid.
“It is no surprise that other parties are participating in this contest, but we are working with all stakeholders to maintain our position as a very viable option for Oncor, its employees, customers and the PUCT,” Jeanne Phillips, a spokesperson for Hunt, told Bloomberg.
For Buffett, adding Oncor would bring steadier cash flow and dividends to his portfolio of 10 energy companies. Earlier this year, Buffett acknowledged the challenge that traditional vertically integrated utilities face as more renewable energy generation comes on-line.
Buffett is not alone in rounding out his portfolio with distribution utilities that offer a steady stream of income. In March, D.C. regulators approved Exelon’s controversial bid to merge with Pepco at a cost of $6.8 billion. Exelon is looking to the distribution utility to beef up its regulated revenue base in order to counter losses on the unregulated side of the business. NextEra, one of the bidders for Oncor, has also bid $4.3 billion for Hawaiian Electric.
With low energy prices, the rise of renewable energy, and a shifting regulatory landscape, the trend of utility buyouts and mega-mergers is likely to continue.