Oklahoma investor’s stock holdings in utility trigger review

April 29, 2021 By identybeauty 0

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An plant worker checks data at a solar installation operated by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., a subsidiary of OGE Energy.

The Vanguard Group, one of the world’s largest investment funds, wanted to see a change in how it fulfills Oklahoma financial disclosure requirements as it continues to increase its level of investment in publicly-traded utilities that are regulated.

On Wednesday, elected members of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission granted that wish.

The issue at hand came from a collision between modern investment strategy and old-school law when it came to Oklahoma’s publicly traded utilities.

Vanguard’s desire to add to its investment in public utilities is fueled by share value growth and dividends those utilities provide shareholders, but companies like Vanguard also must show regulators that they don’t aim to control a utility’s operations through what they own. 

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In general, the laws in Oklahoma and other states aim to protect ratepayers against business changes a large shareholder could initiate involving utilities that might impact how their customers are served and what those services cost.

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Oklahoma law requires an investor who owns at least 10% of a public utility file a case before the Corporation Commission seeking a determination that its ownership doesn’t give it control of the utility.

In June 2020, the Vanguard Group — a firm with more than $7.2 trillion of investments under its direct or indirect control — owned more than 10% of the shares issued by OGE Energy, parent of Oklahoma Gas and Electric. 

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