April 19, 2018 | last updated April 19, 2018 8:53 pm

Connecticut Water rebuffs Eversource's late takeover bid

File Photo
File Photo
Connecticut Water's Chester Reservoir.

Eversource Energy disclosed Thursday that it attempted to disrupt a nearly $750-million merger involving Connecticut Water Service and a California company by making its own bid to buy the Clinton-based water utility.

Eversource, an energy company that diversified into the water business last year with its $1.68 billion acquisition of Bridgeport-based Aquarion Water Co., said it made an unsolicited bid to buy Connecticut Water Service on April 5, several weeks after California-based SJW Group said it reached a deal to acquire Connecticut Water for about $750 million, or $61.86 per share. The value of the deal since then has gone up to $63.70 per share.

Eversource said it offered Connecticut Water $63.50 per share in cash and/or stock.

Connecticut Water responded Thursday, saying it considered but didn't accept Eversource's late offer because it was "not a superior proposal or reasonably likely to lead to a superior proposal." Instead, the company said it will move forward with its SJW deal because it's in the best interest of shareholders "with significant long-term benefits for the company's customers, employees and communities."

Eversource said it has attempted to engage privately with Connecticut Water for some time and expressed interest in a deal in 2017. It's trying to convince Connecticut Water shareholders, which still need to approve the SJW deal, that it would be a better marriage partner.

"We believe that our proposal represents a unique opportunity to deliver significant and immediate value to Connecticut Water's shareholders, customers, employees, and local communities," said Eversource Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Judge. "As such, we were surprised and disappointed that Connecticut Water's board of directors has been unwilling to engage in discussions with us. We urge the board of Connecticut Water to act in the best interests of its shareholders by meeting with us to seriously discuss our compelling proposal."

Under the terms of the SJW deal, the combined company would have a California headquarters and be majority owned (60 percent) by SJW shareholders. Together they would serve more than 1.5 million customers, including more than 450,000 in Connecticut, and have over 700 employees.

Connecticut Water, New England's largest publicly traded water utility company, employs almost 300 full-time employees between Connecticut and Maine, and approximately 210 in its home state.

Eversource said its proposed deal would combine two highly complementary local businesses and it touted its recent acquisition of Aquarion Water Company.

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