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Constellation Finalizes Break With Buffett In Favor of French Suitor

Wednesday, 17 Dec 2008 | 12:19 PM ET
Constellation Energy's Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in Scriba, New York.
Constellation Energy Group Photo
Constellation Energy's Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in Scriba, New York.

Constellation Energy is breaking up with Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy Holdings in favor of France's EDF.

In a news release this morning (Wednesday), Constellation and MidAmerican were very civil as they announced they "jointly reached agreement" to terminate their September merger deal that called for MidAmerican to buy all of Baltimore-based Constellation for $4.7 billion. MidAmerican had also made an emergency $1 billion cash infusion into Constellation.

The release quotes MidAmerican's Gregory Abel as saying, "We were pleased to have been able to quickly provide a significant amount of capital that was critical to Constellation Energy as they went through unprecedented financial times. We appreciate the relationships we have built with the Constellation Energy team and wish them success as they pursue an alternative transaction."

The alternate transaction, of course, is with √Člectriciti√© de France, which now has a "definitive investment deal" to buy 49.99 percent of Constellation's nuclear business for $4.5 billion.

Buffett's side clearly stated yesterday it would not challenge EDF's offer, which was made public earlier this month amid grumbling from some Constellation shareholders that Buffett's price was too low.

But, as we've been pointing out here on WBW (Why Fight When You Can Take the Money And Run?), Buffett doesn't go away empty-handed.

Mid-American gets almost $600 million in cash, 10 percent of Constellation's common stock, and a 14 percent payback on its $1 billion cash infusion.

The Constellation-EDF deal still requires approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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