Behind the scenes at the NRG/Exelon takeover

Fortune has a nice piece on Exelon’s hostile takeover bid for NRG Energy, the Princeton, N.J.-based power plant operator that is Texas’ second-largest electric co. and owner of Houston-based retailer Reliant Energy:

david_crane David Crane, President and CEO, NRG Energy. (James Nielsen, Houston Chronicle)

“David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy and a father of five, was standing in a stubby cornfield in Bucks County, Pa., one windy evening last October when his BlackBerry began to stir. He checked his in-box, but he didn’t respond, not right away. It was Sunday night, and he was on an outing with his family, waiting in line for a Halloween hayride.”

It was Exelon’s John Rowe, with an offer… well, you can read the rest. This drama all comes to a head next Tuesday when NRG holds its shareholders meeting in Princeton, where investors will vote on Exelon’s proposed slate of board members.
One interesting revelation from the Fortune story that confirms old rumors: “NRG was secretly pursuing two deals of its own with Houston-based power companies: one code-named Doris, for Dynegy (DYN), the other Rodeo, for Reliant. Either would create regulatory obstacles that could block Exelon.”
At first glance the Reliant acquisition didn’t seem to make a lot of sense: why should NRG, which in Texas sells power to electric retailers, want to buy one of its largest customers? The takeover-blocking aspect seems obvious, but how does it truly add value? Would someone care to explain?

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