Progress continues, by accounts smoothly, to bring Central Hudson Energy Group under the Canada-based Fortis Inc. energy umbrella. The merger was initiated in February 2012 and was approved by CH shareholders in June 2012. On March 27, CH issued what will likely be its final stock posting before the deal is complete by announcing a quarterly dividend of 55.5 cents per share for CH Energy Group common stock.
Merger benefits, according to Central Hudson, include a new availability of capital. The company reported it will maintain all workers as well as its Poughkeepsie headquarters.
The comment period for the merger ends May 1.
Central Hudson serves 375,000 customers with electric and natural gas service regionally and another 57,000 in the Mid-Atlantic region. Fortis serves about 2 million customers, mostly across Canada and upstate New York, and also maintains hotel and real estate businesses.
Becoming part of the Fortis family of utilities will bring benefits to Central Hudson, Steven Lant, chairman of the board and president of CH Energy Group, said in a prepared statement. “Central Hudson will be in the position to benefit from shared experiences and knowledge from other Fortis utility companies, as all of us seek to continuously improve our operations,” he said. “In addition, Fortis has greater access to capital that will enhance Central Hudson’s ability to make significant investments in the electric and gas system to improve customer service and system reliability, including those recommended in the governor’s ‘Energy Highway’ initiative.”
Lant said the merger would not affect CH’s “substantial civic and community presence in the Mid-Hudson Valley.”
Central Hudson will continue to have annual independent financial audits. Within one year, the board of directors of Central Hudson will transition to a majority of independent directors, increase members from the Hudson Valley and New York state, and will include representatives from Fortis.
“Fortis remains focused on closing the acquisition and providing the benefits to Central Hudson customers as quickly as possible,” the Canadian company said.