Gov. Ige says several investor groups expressing interest in Haw - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Gov. Ige says several investor groups expressing interest in Hawaiian Electric

(Image: Hawaii News Now/File) (Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc.'s stock has tumbled nearly 10 percent over the past two-and-a-half weeks as its merger with NextEra Energy began to unravel. But new investor groups see it as a possible takeover opportunity.

Gov. David Ige said today that he has fielded several inquiries from potential buyers for the utility, in the wake of the collapse of NextEra's $4.3 billion offer for the company.

"I'm probably not at liberty to say (who) at this point but there is interest by some companies, more than one," Ige said.

Ige said any new potential buyer should have the broader interest of consumers and Hawaii's 100 percent renewable energy goal in mind -- and not just its shareholders.

Hawaii Consumer Advocate Jeffrey Ono said NextEra promised Hawaii consumers lower capital costs and renewable energy projects built cheaper. He thinks it ultimately couldn't make good on those promises.

"Those are potentially good things for consumers but we didn't see that they were actually returning those benefits to consumers on day one," Ono said.
"The merger as proposed by NextEra was inadequate."

Former Public Utilities Commission Chair Hermina Morita said the PUC's rejection sends a bad message to the business community and its customers.

"This is of deep concern to me because given HEI, HECO's financial position. It will result in higher financing costs and those costs will ultimately be passed on to customers," she said.

Meanwhile, NextEra will pay Hawaiian Electric a $95 million dollar termination fee.

That money, which amounts to about $60 million after taxes, will be reinvested in clean energy projects, resulting in savings for consumers.

Hawaiian Electric said its budget for renewable energy investments in 2016 is about $145 million.

"We're going to have to work hard to be efficient, to contain our costs and make sure we can deliver these benefits to our customers in the most cost-effective way possible," said Hawaiian Electric Co. spokesman Darren Pai.

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