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A Hydro One station is seen in Brampton, Ont., on March 9, 2015. (Tim Fraser For The Globe and Mail)
A Hydro One station is seen in Brampton, Ont., on March 9, 2015. (Tim Fraser For The Globe and Mail)

Toronto mayor refutes report Hydro One in talks to buy Toronto Hydro Add to ...

Toronto Mayor John Tory is denying a report from Reuters news agency that  talks are under way on a proposed deal to sell city-owned To‎ronto Hydro.

"I can confirm that no discussions are taking place with respect to the sale of Toronto Hydro to anyone," Mr. Tory said Saturday in an e-mailed statement. "In recent months, I clearly indicated that I would not be supporting any proposal to sell Toronto Hydro."

The mayor was responding to a report on Saturday from Reuters  that Ontario's Hydro One was in talks to buy Toronto Hydro for $3-billion, citing anonymous sources.

The talks have gone on for months, Reuters said, but had not entered the final stages and could fall apart.

The report appeared to contradict Mr. Tory's plans, approved by council last year, to avoid any sell-off of Toronto Hydro and instead reinvest city funds in the utility to help it refurbish its electricity grid, after months of speculation that Mr. Tory was interested in a sale. Any deal to sell Toronto Hydro would need to get through city council, where opponents of any sell-off are believed to hold the upper hand.

Reuters said that a deal to buy Toronto Hydro could also help Hydro One's growth ambitions as a public company after it raised $1.8-billion in one of Canada's biggest IPOs in 2015. Hydro One, backed by the province of Ontario, has a market value of $14-billion.

Under one proposal, Hydro One would pay about half the deal value in cash and the rest in stock, one of the people familiar with the talks told Reuters. A cash-and-stock transaction with Hydro One would allow the city to benefit from Hydro One's dividend as well, the people said.

A spokesman for Toronto Hydro also dismissed the report of any talks.

"There is no truth to this rumour and I am not aware of any talks," said Toronto Hydro spokesman Brian Buchan.

A senior Ontario government official also denies the existence of any talks.

The person with knowledge of the energy file says there have been no talks between Hydro One and Toronto Hydro, and says there have been no talks on the issue between Premier Kathleen Wynne and Mr. Tory. Such talks would not be allowed, the person said, as Hydro One operates at arm's length from government, with privatization legislation preventing government from directing Hydro One decisions.

Mr. Tory's denial appeared to contradict the report that discussions were underway involving Toronto Hydro chief executive Anthony Haines, Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt, Ms. Wynne and Mr. Tory, and that such talks were "making progress."

Mr. Tory said Saturday that he has "indicated my support for additional City investment in a Toronto Hydro that remained in public hands."

He said the city is "presently exploring how we can make that investment happen on that basis so that we have a reliable, up to date electricity provider for the people of Toronto."

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