FirstEnergy Seeks Stake Sale in Transmission Business

FirstEnergy Corp. is working with advisers to sell a nearly 20% stake in its transmission business, according to people familiar with the matter.

The utility is seeking to raise about $2.5 billion from the potential stake sale, according to the people, who weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Infrastructure funds and sovereign wealth funds are among potential buyers, they said.

No final decision has been made and FirstEnergy could elect to not sell a stake.

A FirstEnergy spokeswoman declined to comment.

The potential stake sale comes as FirstEnergy works to bolster its balance sheet. The company recently agreed to pay $230 million, the largest criminal penalty ever imposed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio, as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors over a corruption case involving a $1 billion state bailout for nuclear power plants.

Under a deferred-prosecution agreement, the company admitted that it conspired with public officials and others to pay millions of dollars in bribes.

On FirstEnergy’s second-quarter earnings call last month, Chief Financial Officer Jon Taylor said the company was considering selling a minority stake in its distribution or transmission assets to raise money.

Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy’s transmission operations include more than 24,000 miles of lines.

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