Aqua America CEO Christopher Franklin Interviewed by Advisor Access
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 05, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aqua America (NYSE: WTR), over more than 130 years, has grown to become a leader in the water and wastewater utility industry, serving more than three million people across eight states. With the acquisition of the Pittsburgh-based natural gas distribution company, Peoples, Aqua is building on its expertise in infrastructure investment, regulatory compliance and operational excellence with a new platform for growth.
-- Acquisition of Peoples natural gas utility adds more than 740,000 customers and increases rate base by nearly 50% -- Delivered 73 consecutive years of dividend payments and 28 dividend increases in the last 27 years -- Plans to invest more than $500 million in improving water and wastewater infrastructure in 2018 -- Resulting company will be approximately 70% water and 30% gas and maintain strong municipal water and wastewater acquisition strategy
Advisor Access spoke with Christopher Franklin, CEO of Aqua America.
Advisor Access: Please describe Aqua America and what led the company, after more than 130 years of successful growth as a regulated water utility, to decide to expand into natural gas distribution.
Chris Franklin: To understand the rationale behind our transformative acquisition of Peoples, a natural gas distribution utility based in Pittsburgh with more than 740,000 customers, I think it’s helpful to provide some context around Aqua, our industry, and our history of growth…
AA: What is it about Peoples’ location in western Pennsylvania that makes the company particularly attractive to Aqua?
CF: The vast majority of Peoples’ operations, and 77% of the combined company’s rate base, is in Pennsylvania. Peoples also operates in Kentucky and West Virginia, but this focus on Pennsylvania is a key feature of the acquisition…
AA: What opportunities for infrastructure investment and regulatory mechanisms does Peoples have? Are they similar to Aqua’s opportunities in water?
CF: Aqua has an incredible record of replacing hundreds of miles of main for service reliability, which strengthens communities and increases our rate base…
AA: Will the Peoples acquisition have any impact on Aqua’s long-standing policy of paying increasing dividends?
CF: Nearly half of Aqua’s stock is owned by retail shareholders, and many of these investors value our long history of paying dividends. In fact, Aqua is among an elite group of dividend payers known as “Dividend Aristocrats” that have increased payments for more than 25 years in a row…
Read the complete answers to these questions, more questions, and the full, in-depth interview with Aqua America CEO Christopher Franklin HERE.
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