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Ontario says it has reached an agreement in principle with the province’s First Nations to loan them up to $268-million to buy up to 15 million shares at $18 per share.Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

First Nations in Ontario will get the chance to buy shares in Hydro One, a public utility the Liberal government has partially privatized.

The government says it has reached an agreement in principle with the province's First Nations to loan them up to $268-million to buy up to 15 million shares at $18 per share.

That is above the province's book value, but below the $24-to-$26 range the stock has been trading in recent months.

For the deal to go through, at least 80 per cent of the band councils will have to approve the agreement by the end of next year.

If ratified, Ontario would sell the shares to a new investment vehicle owned collectively by First Nations and provide seed capital of up to $45-million over three years.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault says in a statement that this would give economic development opportunities to First Nations across the province.

Thirty per cent of the utility's shares have already been sold, and if 15 million shares are sold to the First Nations, it would represent another 2.5 per cent.