The following is the text of a news release from American Electric Power:
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — American Electric Power (AEP) has signed an agreement to sell its commercial barge transportation subsidiary, AEP River Operations LLC, to American Commercial Lines (ACL), owned by Platinum Equity, for approximately $550 million.
AEP River Operations is a commercial inland barge company delivering about 45 million tons of products annually, including 10 million tons of coal. AEP River Operations has 56 towboats, 2,301 barges and 1,090 employees. The company is headquartered in Chesterfield, Mo., with operations in Paducah, Ky., and Convent, Algiers and Belle Chasse, La.
AEP announced in March that the company was exploring strategic alternatives for AEP River Operations, including a potential sale. AEP acquired the business, formerly known as MEMCO, in 2001 from Progress Energy.
"AEP is focused on delivering customer and shareholder value as a regulated utility company. AEP River Operations has an incredible legacy of success, but operating a commercial barge transportation company no longer fits well with our strategy," said Nicholas K. Akins, AEP chairman, president and chief executive officer.
"ACL has been in the barge transportation business for 100 years and is one of the premier liquid and dry cargo barge lines in the country. ACL shares our commitment to safety and customer service, and several members of their management team know firsthand the exceptional value and potential of AEP River Operations' employees and fleet," Akins said.
Upon close of the sale, ACL will acquire AEP River Operations by purchasing all the stock of AEP Resources, the parent company of AEP River Operations. ACL will assume all assets and liabilities of AEP River Operations.
AEP expects to net approximately $400 million in cash after taxes, debt retirement and transaction fees. The company will invest the proceeds in its regulated business. AEP expects to record a net gain of approximately $125 million from the sale in the fourth quarter of 2015, subject to working capital and other adjustments.
The sale of AEP River Operations is subject to regulatory approval including federal clearance pursuant to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976. The sale is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2015. Morgan Stanley was the adviser for AEP during the strategic evaluation of AEP River Operations.
AEP will retain ownership of its captive barge fleet that delivers coal to the company's regulated coal-fueled power plants owned by Appalachian Power, Kentucky Power and Indiana Michigan Power. AEP has signed a contract with ACL to dispatch and operate AEP's captive barge fleet through the end of 2016. The captive barge fleet delivers about 19 million tons of coal annually to AEP's regulated power plants. The fleet has 12 towboats, 498 barges and 229 employees.
AEP is still conducting an independent strategic evaluation of its competitive generation business. No decision has been made about the future of that business.