By Mary Childs, Matthew Monks, Noah Buhayar and Mark Chediak Sep 25, 2014 10:03 AM CT
CenterPoint Energy Inc., Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) and Hunt Consolidated Inc. are among companies that signed confidentiality agreements to explore bids for Energy Future Holdings Corp.’s Oncor electricity distributor, people familiar with the matter said.
NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE), which helped prompt the auction with a takeover bid this year valuing Oncor at more than $17.5 billion, also signed a non-disclosure agreement letting it conduct due diligence, said the people, requesting anonymity because the process is private. A total of 10 potential bidders have signed such pledges, according to a Sept. 19 court filing by Evercore Partners Inc., which is advising Energy Future.
Energy Future, which was taken private in a record leveraged buyout seven years ago, filed for bankruptcy in April with a plan to split off the side of the company that owns the profitable Oncor business. In July, the company bowed to pressure from lender groups to gather bids for Oncor.
Spokeswomen for Evercore, Houston-based CenterPoint (CNP), NextEra and Berkshire Hathaway Energy declined to comment, and Buffett didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment sent to an assistant. A spokeswoman for Hunt also didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.