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Shareholders vote on KCP&L parent’s merger; regulators set timetable for review

Ownership of Kansas City Power & Light would shift to a newly formed Monarch Energy Holding Inc. under a merger plan approved Tuesday by shareholders.
Ownership of Kansas City Power & Light would shift to a newly formed Monarch Energy Holding Inc. under a merger plan approved Tuesday by shareholders.

Owners of Kansas City-based Great Plains Energy and Topeka-based Westar Energy voted to approve merger plans that would put both utilities under a new company called Monarch Energy Holding Inc.

Shareholders of each company voted more than 90 percent in favor of the merger plans, the companies said.

“This new combined company will ensure we keep ownership of our utility assets in our region to grow local economies,” Terry Bassham, CEO of Great Plains and its subsidiary Kansas City Power & Light, said in an announcement.

The merger still requires regulatory approval from five federal agencies, the Missouri Public Service Commission and the Kansas Corporation Commission.

Kansas regulators issued their procedural schedule Tuesday. It sets the timetable for proceeding with the states’ review, including public hearings on Jan. 22 at the Washburn Institute of Technology in Topeka. The public’s window to submit comments remains open until March 29.

The Kansas Corporation Commission’s order in the case is due June 5, under the schedule posted Tuesday.

Great Plains and Westar want to form Monarch Energy by swapping their shares in their current companies for new shares in Monarch.

This approach emerged after Kansas officials rejected a more traditional merger in April. Regulators cited concerns that the merger would eliminate jobs in Kansas and create too much debt for the merged business.

Shareholders of Great Plains Energy already have millions invested in the transaction. The company reported early this month that merger costs had contributed to a 92 percent drop in its recent quarterly profits.

Tuesday’s shareholder approval comes despite a Westar stockholder’s lawsuit in October to block the deal and a Great Plains investor’s similar lawsuit days later.

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, @mdkcstar

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