Year in Brief: KCP&L parent’s $12.2B Westar deal hits regulatory roadblocks

Westar Energy, the largest utility in Kansas, agreed in late May to a $12.2 billion buyout offer from Great Plains Energy, the parent company of Kansas City Power & Light. But as the year drew to a close, the deal for the Topeka-based power company hung in regulatory limbo.

In April, St. Louis-based Ameren was the first Missouri utility linked to a potential deal for Westar. But Great Plains eventually emerged as the preferred suitor for the Kansas company, which was looking to sell amid tepid demand and rising operational costs.

The Year in Brief offers a look at the business stories that were most important to Missouri in 2016, and that will continue to shape the state in 2017 and beyond.

The deal, which would create a company serving 1.5 million customers along the Missouri-Kansas border, and which landed on a “Fortune” list of the biggest mergers and acquisitions of the year, hit its first regulatory roadblock almost immediately after it was announced, as the Missouri Public Service Commission sought to intervene.

Shareholders for both companies voted in late September to approve the purchase, and Missouri regulators eventually acquiesced.

However, in late December, the staff of the Kansas Corporation Commission recommended that the regulatory body’s board reject the deal, deeming it bad for the companies and the state.

In the face of that opposition, the companies continued to express confidence that they would complete the transaction by the spring of 2017, but continued regulatory resistance appears likely in the new year.

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