Shares of Puget Energy (NYSE:PSD) have fallen nearly 8 percent since Friday, prompting jittery stockholders to flood analysts with questions about whether the company's pending $30-per-share buyout is in trouble.
Shares of Puget Energy have fallen nearly 8 percent since Friday, prompting jittery stockholders to flood analysts with questions about whether the company’s pending $30-per-share buyout is in trouble.
Outside analysts who follow the holding company for Washington’s largest utility said the drop seems to be an unexpected consequence of the most recent Wall Street shake-up, but not a sign the deal is unraveling.
The drop, amid higher-than-average trading volumes and unusual volatility, followed no news about the company or its proposed takeover by investors led by Macquarie Group.
In recent weeks, Puget Energy shares had hovered in the $27-$28 range, signaling that many investors thought the deal was likely to close in the weeks ahead.
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The acquisition price represents a 25 percent premium over the stock’s value when the deal was announced. But shares dropped as low as $23.81 Monday and $23.84 Tuesday before recovering. The stock closed Tuesday at $25.47, down $0.78 or 3 percent.
The fall prompted speculation that financing for the highly leveraged deal — which requires approval by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, and is opposed by the state consumer advocate — could be threatened by the financial cataclysm after last weekend’s collapse of Lehman Brothers and the fire sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America on Sunday.
But a Puget Energy spokeswoman said nothing has changed and the financing commitments for the buyout are securely in place.
Another rumor that caught fire in the financial community suggested that Lehman Brothers, which last reported owning 2.9 million shares or 2.2 percent of Puget Energy, could be flooding the market with shares as it liquidates assets.
“There could have been some forced selling taking place,” said Paul Latta, a Seattle-based analyst with McAdams Wright Ragen. But there’s also the lingering concern that the disarray that began last weekend means that “banks are getting tighter on new money,” he said.
New York-based Lehman declined to comment.
Ángel González: 206-515-5644 or firstname.lastname@example.org