- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A French nuclear power company is upping the ante for Constellation Energy Group Inc., offering to pay $35 per share for the Baltimore-based wholesale power supplier in hopes of unseating a deal Constellation made last week to be sold to MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The offer from Electricite de France SA, which the company made Friday and disclosed Monday, is $8.50 per share higher than the $26.50 per share price to which Constellation agreed last week.

EDF, which already owns 9.5 percent of Constellation, said it was making the offer in conjunction with private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and TPG Capital.

EDF called the offer from Berkshire’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. inadequate, but Mayo Shattuck, Constellation Energy’s chairman, president and chief executive, told analysts Monday that the company has accepted what it considers the best offer.

Mr. Shattuck said Constellation favored the deal with MidAmerican because it provided an immediate cash injection and a higher degree of certainty on issues such as regulatory approval.

Constellation’s shares rose $1.44, or 5.6 percent, to $27.20 in heavy trading on Monday, well off the utility’s 52-week high of $107.97 reached Jan. 8.

MidAmerican Energy announced Thursday that it would buy Constellation Energy for $4.7 billion and give it an immediate $1 billion infusion. The deal was reached after Constellation’s shares plummeted and liquidity concerns had analysts worried that the company would go out of business.

EDF, a major operator of nuclear power plants, is owned mostly by the French government and is the leading power producer in Europe. It has a joint venture with Constellation to build four nuclear reactors.

In addition to offering $35 per share for Constellation, EDF said it would make an immediate $1 billion investment in the company.

Any such deal would come with headaches, however. Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules prohibit outright ownership of Constellation Energy’s five reactors by a foreign company. Constellation has two reactors in Maryland and three in upstate New York.

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