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Taylor Porter represents world’s largest infrastructure asset manager in $4.7 billion cleco deal

1st June 2016

MSI's Louisiana law member Taylor Porter and their team of attorneys are delighted to represent the North American infrastructure investors in a billion dollar cleco deal.

A team of Taylor Porter’s regulatory and transactional attorneys successfully represented a group of North American infrastructure investors led by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA). The world’s largest infrastructure asset manager with growing portfolios in real estate, agriculture and energy, obtaining the regulatory approvals necessary for the $4.7 billion acquisition of Cleco Corporation, the finalisation of a private deal that was first announced in 2014. Other parties in the acquisition included British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC), with John Hancock Financial and other infrastructure investors.

The value of the transaction is approximately $4.7 billion, which includes approximately $1.3 billion of assumed debt.

“This was a long and arduous process, but in the end we were able to obtain LPSC (Louisiana Public Service Commission) approval for this landmark transaction that will benefit both our client and the people of the State of Louisiana for years to come,” said Partner Jim Ellis, who led the team of Taylor Porter attorneys, including regulatory attorneys Robin Toups, Kiki Bergeron, and Tommy Gildersleeve, and transactional attorneys Mike Dufilho and Blue Loupe.

Cleco agreed in October 2014 to a sale proposal for nearly $5 billion from an investment group led by MIRA, bcIMC, John Hancock Financial and other infrastructure investors. The sale was approved by Cleco shareholders, but was initially rejected by the Louisiana Public Service Commission. Taylor Porter attorneys worked closely with MIRA, LPSC Staff, and counsel for Cleco to demonstrate that this transaction was in the public interest and to obtain all of the LPSC and other regulatory approvals necessary to complete the transaction.

“The nature and complexity of this transaction is unprecedented,” Ellis said. “Another complicating factor in this transaction was taking Cleco, a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange, back to private ownership. I am proud of our hard work with all parties involved on the transaction and the collaborative effort across our practice areas.”

In a company press release, Bruce Williamson, Cleco’s departing chairman, president and CEO, stressed that the transaction will “capture a premium valuation for all shareholders, and we also sought to ensure that Cleco will continue to be locally managed and operated.”

New CEO Darren Olagues said the transaction includes “comprehensive commitments that preserve the core values of our company and protect our customers, our employees and the communities we serve. Customers will receive an average of $500 in rate credits and a two-year extension of the current base rate plan. Our communities will benefit because Cleco will remain in Pineville, and the new owners will continue the company’s charitable giving and investments in economic development. Employees will benefit because staffing levels, salaries and benefits will be maintained for 10 years”

Chris Leslie, CEO of MIRA, added: “Cleco represents an excellent investment for the investor group’s clients who seek long term, stable returns. We are very pleased to invest in a business which has such a long-history of good operations and community service. We appreciate the Louisiana Public Service Commission’s confidence that this transaction is the best path for Cleco’s future as a Louisiana company.”

About Taylor Porter - Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Founded in 1912 in the heart of Louisiana’s economic development in Baton Rouge, Taylor Porter is one of the oldest, largest and most respected law firms in Louisiana, with a diverse range of local, regional, national and international clients in the most complex transactions and litigation across a variety of industries.

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