Elliott calls on Evergy to reengage with NextEra Energy after bid report

FILE PHOTO: A wind farm shares space with corn fields the day before the Iowa caucuses, where agriculture and clean energy are key issues, in Latimer, Iowa, U.S. February 2, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

(Reuters) - Activist investor Elliott Management Corp on Tuesday asked Evergy Inc EVRG.N to immediately restart deal talks with NextEra Energy Inc NEE.N, after Reuters reported that the U.S. power utility had turned down a roughly $15 billion bid.

NextEra, the world’s largest producer of wind and solar energy, made an all-stock bid valuing Evergy in the mid $60s-per-share, Reuters reported on Monday.

Evergy told NextEra the price was inadequate, and that it required a detailed plan to overcome regulatory hurdles to a deal, the report added, citing sources.

Elliott, which in January disclosed an economic interest of 11.3 million shares in Evergy, said NextEra was “uniquely positioned to deliver superior benefits for all of Evergy’s stakeholders, including providing lower electric rates for Evergy’s customers.”

Evergy had solicited takeover bids earlier this year under pressure from Elliott. It attracted NextEra’s interest, but Evergy decided last summer to remain independent.

Evergy said on Tuesday there was currently no offer or bid from any third party and reiterated it would focus on executing its transformation plan.

The Sustainability Transformation Plan is the best risk-adjusted path forward and that all appropriate steps are being and have been taken to maximize shareholder value, the company said in an e-mailed statement.

It was unclear whether NextEra will make a new approach, Reuters reported, citing sources. One of the sources said NextEra had no immediate plans for a new bid.

U.S. utilities are under pressure to gain scale through dealmaking, as they grapple with the swelling costs of serving a larger population, upgrading aging infrastructure and investing in cleaner energy production.

Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru and David French in New York; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila