Exelon’s nine-month long takeover battle for NRG, one of the country’s largest power companies, is over. It ended at a July 21 shareholders meeting, held at the Princeton Hyatt Regency, just a few minutes walk from NRG headquarters at 211 Carnegie Center, when Exelon formally abandoned its hostile bid minutes after NRG shareholders overwhelmingly rejected Exelon’s rival slate of board candidates.
“That’s the end of it,” Exelon vice president Bill Von Hoene was quoted as saying by Fortune magazine, shortly after NRG’s annual meeting. “We’ve withdrawn our offer.”
Exelon, already the nation’s largest electric utility, was trying to create what would have become the nation’s largest electricity producer, and for a long time it looked like it might succeed, but CEO David Crane, a leading proponent of nuclear energy, fought hard. What made NRG attractive, among other things, was its plan to build the first new nuclear power plant in America in more than a generation.
Exelon launched its bid during last fall’s global economic meltdown, offering NRG shareholders a 37 percent premium. Crane and NRG’s board opposed the deal from the start, arguing that the offer was too low.
But three factors ultimately turned the tide of shareholder sentiment against the deal, Crane told Fortune. One was NRG’s acquisition in early March of Houston power company Reliant’s retail business, which added value that Exelon’s offer failed to take into account. Second was Exelon’s awkward admission last spring that it was not nearly so well hedged against fluctuations in energy prices as analysts had believed. Third was the dramatic rebound in global markets, which boosted confidence in NRG’s growth prospects as a stand-alone company.
Shortly after the board meeting ended Exelon’s quest to take over NRG, the company announced that its second quarter profit had more than tripled from the year ago period. The company reported on July 31 that it had made $433 million, or $1.56 a share, for the quarter ended June 30, as compared with $127 million, or 48 cents a share, one year ago. In the same time period revenue rose 70 percent to $2.2 billion from $1.3 billion in the year ago quarter.
The company said that improvements in profit came even as demand for electricity fell because of the recession, unseasonably cold weather in the Northeast, and low natural gas prices.
Credit was also given to its acquisition of Reliant Energy’s retail operations in Texas and the sale of a German mining business. NRG’s power plants provide more than 24,000 megawatts of generation capacity, enough to supply more than 20 million homes.
NRG Energy Inc. (NRG), 211 Carnegie Center, Princeton 08540-6213; 609-524-4500; fax, 609-524-4501. David Crane, president and CEO. Home page: www.nrgenergy.com.