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WGL Holdings-AltaGas Merger Gets Another Regulatory Approval

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WGL Holdings, Inc announced the receipt of approval from Maryland Public Service Commission for its merger with AltaGas Ltd. (ALA.TO). The merger is valued at $4.5 billion.

Subject to approval from the Public Service Commission of District of Columbia, the merger, which was announced on Jan 25, 2017, is expected to be completed by the first half of 2018.

Approval Subject to Conditions

Maryland Public Service Commission’s approval for the merger of the complementary energy companies is subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions. Per the conditions, the merged entity will have to share certain benefits, and work on improving the existing utility infrastructure. The entity will have to invest in excess of $157 million to fulfill these conditions. The companies have to submit acceptance of these conditions by Apr 16.

Benefits of the Merger

AltaGas operates in North America and its Gas segment serves customers of Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. The merger with WGL Holdings will expand its business territory. WGL Holdings’ area of service includes Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. The newly-formed entity will become a top utility gas distribution company, and benefit customers as well as shareholders through long-term service.

The merger will lead to a combined customer base of approximately 80,2400. This provides a scope for adding value to the business line and economy. Increased power generation and natural gas storage are additional benefits of the alliance.

WGL Holdings’ energy sources are natural gas, wind and solar. The company has a broad range of energy solutions like generation, storage, transportation, distribution and supply to serve customers efficiently. Following the completion of the merger, AltaGas will be able to serve in more than 25 states.

The companies are involved in natural gas storage and marketing activities. WGL Holding has pipeline delivery facilities in Hampshire Country and West Virginia. The company’s transmission and distribution mains as well as services will add value to AltaGas.

Merger & Acquisition in Utility Space

Notably, the Utility industry continues to witness consolidation, acquisitions, mergers and strategic partnerships for the expansion of operations. Currently, Dominion Energy, Inc. (D - Free Report) and SCANA Corp.’s (SCG - Free Report) merger awaits the necessary approval and is expected to close by the end of 2018. The deal is valued at $14.6 billion.

Price Movement

Shares of WGL Holdings have gained 3.3% in the last 12 months, against the industry’s decline of 0.2%.

Zacks Rank & Key Pick

A better-ranked stock belonging to the same industry is New Jersey Resources Corp. (NJR - Free Report) , sporting the Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). The company delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 516.94% in the past four quarters. Expected EPS growth for next 5 years is 6%.  You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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