NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Utility giant Entergy’s plans to sell its gas distribution business is moving forward under a $484 million cash deal with Bernhard Capital Partners, a Baton Rouge-based private equity management firm.
The two companies announced the pending deal on Monday.
Entergy will spin off a division that provides gas to about 95,000 homes and businesses in the Baton Rouge area under Entergy Louisiana and another 109,000 in New Orleans, which is serviced by Entergy New Orleans.
Entergy said it will use the proceeds, if the sale is approved, to repay debt and to support its growing electric utility business.
″This agreement allows us to continue our strategy of simplifying operations and focusing on our regulated electric utility business for the benefit of our customers,” said Drew Marsh, Entergy chairman and chief executive officer.
Jeff Jenkins, founder and partner at Bernhard Capital Partners, said in a statement that they believe “this operation is primed to provide even greater services to Louisiana communities and beyond.”
“We have an experienced leadership team prepared to lead it through strategic, transformational growth,” Jenkins said. “This agreement is the catalyst to significant investment and opportunity for current employees, customers, and our state. In fact, we anticipate creating more than a hundred new, high-paying jobs for Louisiana residents through this investment.”
The deal requires approval from regulators including the Louisiana Public Service Commission, Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish’s Metropolitan Council and the New Orleans City Council.
Completion of the transaction could take nearly two years.
Entergy, based in New Orleans, provides utility services to three million customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Bernhard Capital Partners focuses on investments in service and infrastructure businesses.