ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR--(CCNMatthews - May 17, 2006) - Fortis Inc. (TSX:FTS)
Belize Electricity Limited, a subsidiary of Fortis Inc., issued the following media release on May 16, 2006.
Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) announced yesterday a rights offering to its shareholders. Under the terms of the offering, BEL will issue a right to acquire one Ordinary Share at par value BZ$2.00 for every Ordinary Share issued and outstanding. BEL currently has issued and outstanding approximately 34 million Ordinary Shares. If fully subscribed, the rights offering will result in gross proceeds of approximately BZ$69 million to BEL. The rights offering is expected to close on or about June 18, 2006.
"The increased equity will strengthen BEL's balance sheet, enabling the Company to continue with development plans that will improve reliability of service to our customers and help meet the growing energy demand of Belize," says Lynn Young, BEL's President and Chief Executive Officer.
"BEL's investment in capital projects is expected to approach BZ$177 million over the next five years," says Young. He explains that the Company's capital projects over the planning period include preventative upgrades to minimize system damage and service interruptions from tropical storms, expansion of the distribution system to meet high demands, upgrades to the transmission system to reduce losses and improve power quality, and investments in technology and equipment to improve efficiencies, productivity and service to customers.
BEL, the primary distributor of electricity in Belize, Central America, serves almost 69,000 customers. The Company meets a peak demand of 63 megawatts. Growth in energy demand continues at a rate of approximately 6 per cent annually.
Fortis Inc. will maintain its existing ownership level of BEL by purchasing, for approximately BZ$47 million, all of the Ordinary Shares on which it has rights.
Fortis Inc., through various subsidiaries, holds approximately 68.5 per cent interest in BEL. The Social Security Board of Belize holds approximately 26.5 per cent interest in BEL with the remaining approximately 5 per cent interest held by residents of Belize.
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