$12.2B merger between Great Plains, Westar suffers a major setback

Kansas regulators sharply criticized Great Plains Energy’s planned acquisition of Westar Energy, calling it potentially bad for the companies and the state.

Staffers for the Kansas Corporation Commission recommended that its board reject the $12.2 billion deal between Topeka-based Westar and Great Plains, the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light.

The potential deal would create a utility behemoth, serving 1.5 million customers on both sides of the Kansas and Missouri border. The deal was big enough to place No. 9 on Fortune magazine’s list of the 12 largest mergers and acquisitions of 2016.

In extensive testimony filed with the KCC last week, the utility regulatory agency’s staff raised concerns that Great Plains would take on too much debt in its bid to buy Westar and that the merger could shed enough jobs to hurt the Kansas economy.

Great Plains spokesman Chuck Caisley said it was highly unusual and unfortunate for the commission’s staff to take such a negative position without offering any reasonable solution or path forward.

Westar also spoke out against the KCC’s findings, noting its confidence and commitment to “successfully closing this transaction in the spring of 2017.”

Read more: Kansas City Star, Kansas City Business Journal

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