Kansas regulators threaten to halt $12.2B Westar merger

TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas regulators are threatening to halt the $12.2 billion sale of Topeka-based Westar Energy to Great Plains Energy if they don’t get details on cost savings and other information.

Kansas Corporation Commission took no action at a meeting Tuesday. But an order warned that if merger standards aren’t met, possible action could include a request for dismissal of the merger application, The Topeka Capital-Journal ( ) reported.

“We’re still evaluating the order … we want to be very thoughtful about how we read it and make sure that we’re understanding it clearly,” said Chuck Caisley, spokesman for Missouri-based Great Plains Energy and Westar. “We’re still committed to closing this transaction in the spring of 2017, and nothing in the commission’s order today changes that timeline.”

KCC staff raised concerns about what departments or functions would remain in the Topeka headquarters and how long the commitment to Topeka would last. The response from Great Plains Energy said specific departments, functions or a time period had not been determined.

Caisley said operational savings and the timing of those savings are hard to determine.

“I think that it would be very difficult to say it’s going to be exactly this number of dollars and cents, because we’re currently going through a process that started six months ago with Westar to look at all of those things,” he said.

In a September filing, KCC staff questioned the lack of detail in the merger application. Although GPE/Westar replied that they paraphrased merger standards and fully understand KCC expectations regarding the merger, commission staff argued that wasn’t accurate.

“The insufficient detail and lack of support for the Joint Application have caused Staff (and other intervening parties to this docket) to use valuable investigatory time seeking information, data, and other support in an attempt to get Joint Applicants’ request to a place where it merely meets the threshold requirements for consideration,” KCC staff concluded.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal,