Duke Energy Stays the Course on Power Plant Sales

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- After a peer pulled a sale of a like business, Duke Energy's (DUK) process to sell its generation business in the Midwest is going "strong" and is on track for an announcement after Labor Day, said sources familiar with the matter.

If the sale goes through, it could reach a valuation of between $2 billion and $2.3 billion, according to industry bankers.

Industry participants started to question whether Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke would be successful with its merchant generation sale following Arlington, Va.-based AES' (AES) announcement on July 14 that it was pulling the sale of subsidiary DPL Inc.'s generation and retail businesses, a similar business to Duke's. That business had been expected to garner $1.5 billion to $2 billion in a sale.

Duke has gone down this road before as it tried to sell this business in September 2012, also with the assistance of Citigroup and Morgan Stanley. That auction, however, didn't result in a transaction.

The seeming difference between Duke's current sale process and the AES DPL auction that didn't work out, is that Duke now has a better understanding of the valuation, according to industry observers. Plus, Duke is committed to the regulated model and the need to sell these assets.

In February 2014, Duke again announced plans to exit the commercial electricity generation business in the Midwest and sell its ownership stakes in 13 coal, natural gas and oil-fired power plants located in Ohio, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. The portfolio has approximately 6,600 megawatts and the plants are owned or partially owned by Duke, with some plants jointly owned by AES' DPL and American Electric Power Co.

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