By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Connecticut company that wanted to buy PGW last year has itself been bought by a company in Spain. And now the President of Philadelphia City Council wants to know if this deal was in the works as the PGW deal was being debated.
Council President Darrell Clarke says one of the reasons council ultimately rejected the plan to sell PGW was that the utility could quickly be re-sold. He sees vindication of that fear now that UIL itself is being sold to the Spanish company Iberdrola:
“We were obviously concerned about the potential of a resale of this property and this asset. And it seems like our concerns about the re-sale were, in fact, valid.”
Clarke now wants to know if UIL officials were negotiating to sell the company at the same time they were trying to buy PGW:
“Being sold to a company that’s not even in the United States causes us some significant concerns. So we want to know what did they know leading up to this decision, and how much of this was actually taking place during the course of their attempted purchase of PGW.”
Mayor Nutter wanted to sell PGW to UIL for nearly two billion dollars. His spokesman, Mark McDonald, says the sale of UIL — just two months after the PGW deal collapsed — proves that UIL was a strong company:
“Today’s announcement is proof positive — a little bit of ‘we told you so’ — that UIL was a desirable entity.”
And McDonald told reporters that the mayor was unaware of any pending sale of UIL at the time he was pushing for it to buy PGW:
(Reporter) Was the Administration aware last year (of the possible sale of UIL) while the PGW?
(McDonald) “No, no.”
(Reporter) You were unaware of it?
(McDonald) “Completely. These are publicly traded companies. And they would have to disclose to their investors were something like this happening.”
Council President Clarke notes that in one week Council will continue its informational hearings on the future of PGW. He says at that time he’ll ask Nutter administration officials about the sale of UIL, but he doubts UIL itself will clarify whether its own sale was in the works as the PGW sale was being debated:
“We will try to talk to the company, but the likelihood that they’ll respond is somewhat limited.”
But UIL spokesman Michael West is adamant that the sale of UIL was not in the works while its PGW bid was still alive:
“No. No discussions about this occurred during that time at all. In fact, it was only after it was evident that the Philadelphia deal was not going to happen that there came some interest in UIL.”
West, in fact, says the lengthy wrangling over UIL’s bid to buy PGW raised its global profile, and that in turn led to the purchase by Iberdrola:
“We always knew and said more frequently than not that the eyes of the world were watching the proposed transaction, and I think this is evidence of that.”
Iberdrola is purchasing UIL for about $3-billion.