Vectren considering sale after takeover interest, sources say

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Vectren Corp., a Midwestern gas and electric utility with a market value of almost $5.5 billion, is considering options including a sale after receiving takeover interest, people familiar with the matter said.

The Evansville-based company has been working with a financial adviser after being approached by at least one potential buyer, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter wasn’t public. Vectren hasn’t formally put itself up for sale and could decide to remain independent, the people said. The identity of the potential suitor couldn’t immediately be learned.

Vectren ranks as Indiana's 13th-largest public company, with $2.4 billion in annual revenue. It provides gas and/or electricity to more than 1 million customers in service territories that cover nearly two-thirds of Indiana and about 20 percent of Ohio. Every county surrounding Marion County receives service from Vectren.

Vectren shares rose as much as 9.1 percent in trading Tuesday, the most since November 2008. Shares closed at $66.16, up 7.9 percent.

A representative for Vectren declined to comment.

The U.S. power sector is experiencing a takeover boom as utilities strike deals to counter weak electricity demand and rising costs. High stock prices and access to relatively cheap debt are also driving the trend.

Utilities deals valued at a total of $88 billion have been agreed to this year, an increase of 40 percent from the same period in 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Sempra Energy agreed this month to pay $9.45 billion for Texas power distributor Oncor Electric Delivery Co., topping a bid by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Two other utilities, AltaGas Ltd. and Hydro One Ltd., have announced acquisitions of more than $5 billion this year.

Vectren has a non-utility division that offers underground pipeline construction and repair services. That unit also helps municipalities and businesses lower their power costs by outfitting facilities with energy-efficient equipment.

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