Photo: Cove Point LNG plant/Image courtesy of Dominion Energy

Dominion provides update on asset sale process

Dominion Energy has just released the latest update related to the pending sale of its gas transmission and storage assets to an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

In early July, Dominion announced the agreement to sell all of its gas transmission & storage segment assets including a 25 per cent stake in the Cove Point LNG plant to a unit of the Warren Buffet-led Berkshire Hathaway.

According to the latest update, Dominion expects its transaction with Berkshire Hathaway Energy, exclusive of Questar Pipelines, to close around November 1, 2020. As consideration for that transaction, the company will receive approximately $2.7 billion in cash and transfer $5.3 billion of existing Dominion Energy Gas Holdings (DEGH) related indebtedness to the buyer at closing.

The company also expects to complete the sale of Questar Pipelines to Berkshire Hathaway Energy upon receipt of Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) clearance in early 2021. As consideration for that transaction, Dominion Energy would receive approximately $1.3 billion in cash and transfer around $430 million of existing Questar Pipelines indebtedness to the buyer.

Aggregate cash consideration and assumption of debt across the two anticipated closings is exactly equivalent to the original transaction terms announced on July 5, 2020, reported Dominion Energy.

This mutually agreed dual-phase closing is the result of updated timing expectations for receipt of the HSR clearance from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related exclusively to the sale of Questar Pipeline and Overthrust Pipeline (together with related entities, Questar Pipelines).

Given all closing conditions have been met with respect to non-Questar Pipelines assets included in the transaction, Dominion Energy and Berkshire Hathaway Energy have opted to move forward with an expeditious initial closing to be followed with a subsequent Questar Pipelines closing in early 2021.

As a result of the phased closing, Questar Pipelines and its associated debt will be removed from Dominion Energy Gas Holdings prior to the transfer of DEGH to Berkshire. Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which is A-rated, has indicated it plans to support the existing credit profile of DEGH by foregoing the refinancing of some $1.2 billion of scheduled maturities over the next 12 months as well as consideration of other credit-enhancing measures including additional deleveraging past 2021, as needed.

Share repurchases

To date, Dominion Energy has completed over $500 million of open market repurchases as well as executed a $1.5 billion accelerated share repurchase program that will conclude in December.

When complete in early 2021, the company continues to expect total share repurchases to be at least $3 billion.

2020 operating earnings per share guidance

Based on strong year-to-date performance, Dominion Energy now expects 2020 operating earnings per share, normalized for weather, to be in the top half of its $3.37 to $3.60 guidance range. The company is also affirming all other earnings and dividend guidance.

The dual-phase closing will not change the company’s prior guidance with regard to treatment of assets being divested (inclusive of Questar Pipelines) as discontinued operations and excluded from operating earnings.