Tory dismisses report that Hydro One in discussions to buy Toronto Hydro for $3B

Toronto Mayor John Tory is disputing a news report that says Hydro One is in talks to buy Toronto Hydro for $3 billion.

"I can confirm that no discussions are taking place with respect to the sale of Toronto Hydro to anyone," Tory said in a tweet on Saturday night.

The mayor was referring to a Reuters report published on Saturday that quoted two anonymous sources saying Hydro One and Toronto Hydro have been in talks "for the past few months" but those discussion have not "entered final stages."

According to the sources, described as "people with knowledge of the matter," the talks involve Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines, Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt, and Tory himself. The sources also said the talks could collapse.

The report said one proposal under discussion is that Hydro One would buy Toronto Hydro half through cash and half through stock. Such a transaction, according to the report, would enable the city to benefit from Hydro One's dividend.

But in a statement attached to his tweet, Tory dismissed the report.

"In recent months, I clearly indicated that I would not be supporting any proposal to sell Toronto Hydro," he said. 

"Rather, I indicated my support for additional city investment in a Toronto Hydro that remained in public hands. We are 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."

The Reuters report also said the city is looking at other ways to selling off its assets, including putting its Green P parking business up for sale.

Tory, in his tweet and statement, did not dismiss the idea of a possible sale of the Green P parking business. Tory could not be reached for further comment on Sunday.

Last September, Tory spoke to the Toronto Region Board of Trade, saying he has directed city staff to "examine the whole question of how Toronto Hydro is structured and financed."

The mayor said the city will also look at its parking and real estate assets "which may present opportunities to help with city building."

In an interview with Metro Morning a day after that speech, Tory said there was currently no specific proposal on the table to sell any stake of Toronto Hydro. He also said he remained committed to keeping the utility "in public hands."

But he said he said city staff should continue to explore ways to "unlock" value in the public utility.

Toronto Hydro, which operates an electrical distribution system that serves about 740,000 customers in Toronto, is the largest municipal electricity distribution company in Canada.

Owned solely by the city of Toronto, it distributes about 18 per cent of the electricity consumed in Ontario.