By Peg Brickley and Jonathan Randles
NextEra Energy Inc.'s planned acquisition of one of the country's largest electricity transmissions businesses, Oncor, moved to the next phase Friday, when a judge said he would confirm the bankruptcy-exit plan of Oncor owner Energy Future Holdings Corp.
Confirmation sets the stage for hearings before the Public Utility Commission of Texas, which must approve the acquisition of Oncor, a critical element of the state's power system, by NextEra, a Florida company.
Judge Christopher Sontchi's confirmation ruling is the second for an Energy Future bankruptcy-exit plan. An earlier chapter 11 plan built around the planned sale of Oncor to a group of investors led by Hunt Consolidated Inc. was confirmed last year, but the deal fell apart after Texas regulators put conditions on the transaction.
NextEra will pay $4.4 billion in cash and stock, plus pay off $5.4 billion in financing that helped Energy Future through bankruptcy, to gain control of Oncor, which carries power to some 10 million Texans.
Energy Future, the former TXU Corp., filed for chapter 11 protection in April 2014 with $42 billion in debt. Most of the debt was resolved when Energy Future's electricity generating and retailing businesses exited bankruptcy last year as a new company called Vistra Energy.
Parent company Energy Future remained in bankruptcy, with an 80% stake in Oncor as its principal asset. NextEra had been trying to buy Oncor since 2014. Two years later, NextEra was declared the winner of a bidding contest that revived after the Hunt deal was scrapped.
Write to Peg Brickley at email@example.com and Jonathan Randles at Jonathan.Randles@wsj.com