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Great Plains and Westar haven’t given up on doing a deal

Great Plains Energy, the parent company of electric utility Kansas City Power & Light, continues to negotiate on a possible merger with Topeka-based utility Westar Energy.
Great Plains Energy, the parent company of electric utility Kansas City Power & Light, continues to negotiate on a possible merger with Topeka-based utility Westar Energy. Star file photo

Great Plains Energy, the parent company of electric utility Kansas City Power & Light, continues to negotiate on a possible merger with Topeka-based utility Westar Energy.

Both companies have agreed to extend the expiration of their merger agreement, originally struck on May 29, 2016, until Nov. 30. In filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the two companies said the November deadline is meant to provide additional time to come up with a revised merger deal that might satisfy regulators.

In April, the Kansas Corporation Commission denied Great Plains Energy’s bid to buy Westar for $12.2 billion. The regulatory agency that oversees utilities in Kansas said the deal would leave Great Plains Energy with too much debt and put too many Kansas jobs at risk. The KCC later rejected a request by Great Plains Energy and Westar to reconsider its decision.

Great Plains Energy had argued that a combined company would result in $2 billion in savings over 10 years from efficiencies and would also could fend off takeover attempts by out-of-town or even out-of-country companies looking to buy utilities.

According to the 2016 merger agreement, Great Plains Energy would have to pay a $380 million termination fee if the two companies couldn’t pull off a deal because of regulatory issues.

Terry Bassham, chief executive at Great Plains, told analysts in May that the two companies at the time thought there might be room to negotiate a new deal.

Steve Vockrodt: 816-234-4277, @st_vockrodt

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