By Robb M. Stewart

Enbridge has laid the ground for an equity raising to help pay for its $9.4 billion acquisition of three natural gas utilities from Dominion Energy.

The Canadian pipeline operator said Thursday it submitted certain Canadian and U.S. securities filings that would allow it to issue and sell up to 2.75 billion Canadian dollars of its share, or the U.S. dollar equivalent, which currently is about $2.02 billion.

The shares would be sold at the company's discretion to the public from time to time, at prevailing market prices, through the Toronto or New York stock exchanges, or other marketplaces in the two countries.

If used, the at-the-market option would be used to part-fund the purchase of Dominion's gas-distribution companies, which Enbridge last September agreed to buy for $9.4 billion in cash and assume $4.6 billion of debt. At the time, Enbridge carried out a C$4 billion bought-deal offering of its shares and said it obtained debt financing commitments totaling $9.4 billion from Morgan Stanley and Royal Bank of Canada.

Enbridge said it continues to have a variety of alternative funding options available to it for the acquisitions, including issuing senior unsecured notes and junior subordinated hybrid debt. In April it concluded a deal in April to sell its stakes in two pipeline joint ventures to partner Pembina Pipeline for about C$3.1 billion, including debt.

The Calgary, Alberta closed the acquisition of Dominion's East Ohio Gas last month and forecast it would close the purchases of Questar Gas and its related Wexpro companies and Public Service Co. of North Carolina this year.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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