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California Water Service Confirms Proposal To Buy SJW Group For $68.25/shr

California Water Service Group (CWT) confirmed that it proposes to acquire SJW Group (SJW) for $68.25 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at about $1.9 billion including assumption of debt.

California Water's proposal, which exceeds SJW's all-time high closing share price, represented a 30% premium to SJW's share price at the time of California Water's April 4, 2018 proposal, and represents a 20% premium to SJW's closing stock price yesterday, was reiterated today in a letter to SJW's Board of Directors.

Martin Kropelnicki, President and CEO of California Water, said, "We have repeatedly sought to discuss privately our superior proposal with SJW's Board, but SJW has refused to engage and just informed us last night that the SJW Board rejected it on April 13, 2018. Their lack of engagement has prevented their stockholders from learning about the substantial and immediate value we can deliver. We are now making our proposal public so stockholders can evaluate it for themselves. We are confident they will view it as clearly superior to the Connecticut Water transaction and to SJW's standalone prospects."

California Water said it is confident of its ability to obtain timely regulatory approval and to finance the transaction.

Separately, California Water Service Group announced a net loss of $2.5 million or $0.05 net loss per share for the first quarter of 2018, compared to net income of $1.1 million or $0.02 per share for the first quarter of 2017.

The $3.6 million decrease in net income was driven primarily by factors outside the company's immediate control, including a $1.5 million reduction in unrealized income from certain benefit plan investments due to market conditions, a $0.8 million increase in uninsured loss costs due to water main breaks, and a $0.7 million reduction in unbilled revenue accrual.

Total revenue increased 8.4% to $132.2 million in the first quarter of 2018 compared to $122.0 million in the first quarter of 2017.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report earnings of $0.05 per share and revenues of $113.42 million for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

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