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Spain's Iberdrola to buy UIL Holdings for about $3 billion

Philippe Desmazes | AFP | Getty Images

Spanish utility Iberdrola will buy UIL Holdings for about $3 billion to create a new listed power and electric utility and expand in the United States.

The world leader in wind turbines joins other European companies, including Germany's Siemens which last year agreed to buy U.S. turbine maker Dresser-Rand, as they seek to grow through purchases outside sluggish home markets.

"The transaction integrates Iberdrola USA and UIL, is consistent with group strategy and creates a significant company in the United States, a key market in which we are taking a major step forward," said Ignacio Galan, Iberdrola's chairman.

Last October, Reuters reported that Iberdrola hired JPMorgan to sell some foreign renewable assets to help fund an acquisition in the fast-growing U.S. market.

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Spain's energy reforms, which aim to cut a massive tariff shortfall in the regulated power system, have wiped 1.4 billion euros from Iberdrola's earnings since 2011.

Angry over the painful reforms, Galan vowed to cut domestic investments drastically and boost exposure abroad, especially in the United States and Mexico.

Deal details

Iberdrola said UIL shareholders will receive one share in the new company for each share they own and an additional cash payment of $10.50 per share.

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The proposed deal implies a total value of $52.75 per share, which includes the cash component, representing a 25 percent premium to UIL's closing price on Feb. 25, the companies said.

Iberdrola will combine its U.S. unit with UIL and list the new company on a U.S. exchange. The companies did not specify the exchange on which it would be listed.

The new company will serve 3.1 million electric and gas customers across New York, Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts and would invest $6.9 billion in electric and gas infrastructure over the next five years, the companies said.

UIL Chief Executive James Torgerson will be the new company's CEO. Iberdrola and UIL will continue to have offices in New Haven, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine and New York.

Energy East, now known as Iberdrola USA, delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in 2008 and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iberdrola SA.

The deal, which has been unanimously approved by both companies' boards, is expected to close by the end of 2015. Morgan Stanley served as financial adviser to UIL, while Sullivan & Cromwell and Wiggin and Dana served as legal advisers.