October 20, 2014 / 9:35 AM / 5 years ago

Macquarie-led group to buy Louisiana utility Cleco

(Reuters) - An investor group led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets has agreed to buy Louisiana electricity supplier Cleco Corp CNL.N in a deal valued at about $4.7 billion, including about $1.3 billion of assumed debt.

The offer of $55.37 per share represents a premium of about 15 percent to Cleco stock’s Friday close.

Cleco will continue to operate as an independent company led by the local management following close of the deal and will maintain its headquarters in Pineville, Louisiana.

Cleco said the deal will not affect residential or commercial rates for electricity and shareholders will continue to receive dividends at an annual rate of $1.60 per share until closing.

The investor group includes British Columbia Investment Management Corp and John Hancock Financial, a division of Canadian insurance company and financial services provider Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO).

Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets is part of Macquarie Group Ltd (MQG.AX).

Cleco Corp owns the regulated electric utility Cleco Power LLC.

Darren Olagues, president of Cleco Power LLC, is expected to replace Bruce Williamson as president and chief executive upon closing of the deal, the company said.

Cleco said in June it received indications of interest from third parties for a strategic transaction.

The company reported a lower-than-expected second-quarter profit in July, hit by a one-time refund to customers.

Goldman Sachs & Co and Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co are serving as financial advisers to Cleco, while Locke Lord LLP is the legal adviser.

Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc is serving as financial adviser to the Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets-led investor group. Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as legal counsel.

Cleco’s shares closed at $48.27 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. Up to Friday’s close, the company’s shares had risen about 5 percent in the past 12 months.

Reporting by Ankush Sharma and Shubhankar Chakravorty in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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