The arrival of the new year could be a bittersweet transition for many South Carolina investors, as an old acquaintance fades away.
Shares of one of the state’s largest and oldest public companies are on the verge of extinction after more than 70 years of trading.
SCANA Corp. will be replaced by a San Francisco bank in the S&P 500 Index come Wednesday.
Its removal from the closely watched stock market barometer was inevitable. The Cayce company that got its start in downtown Charleston 175 years ago is being bought out by an out-of-state rival, the latest twist in the V.C. Summer debacle.
“S&P 500 constituent Dominion Energy … is acquiring SCANA ... in a deal expected to be completed soon pending final conditions,” S&P Dow Jones Indices said in a matter-of-fact statement last week.
The $14.6 billion sale will close out an extended run for South Carolina’s only investor-owned utility, which cut its teeth in the Lowcountry as Charleston Gas Light Co. in 1843.
“Two years later, the company lit the streets of Charleston with gas streetlights,” according to SCANA’s website.
By 1937, after a series of mergers and name changes, the utility rebranded for the long haul, this time adopting South Carolina Electric & Gas as its corporate identity.
The exact timing is unclear, but the company’s stock began to show up in the public arena about a decade later. In May 1948, SCE&G published a notice announcing plans to sell more than 400,000 shares at $6.50 each.
The utility appeared in newspaper stock-market tables later that year, when prices were still calculated in fractions. “Sou Caro E & G” — later SCG — closed up ⅜ to 23⅝ on Dec. 2, 1948.
As time went on, the utility's business structure became more complex, leading to the formation of SCANA Corp. The new holding company kept the SCG symbol when its shares hit the market in early 1985.
Now, SCANA is preparing for its final Big Board trading session, while shareholders swap their piece of the action for a stake in Dominion. The Richmond, Va.-based energy giant has been itching to buy SCE&G and its parent for nearly a year.
The forced sale was a byproduct of the failed expansion of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. SCANA and state-owned Santee Cooper abandoned the Midlands project in mid-2017 after spending more than $9 billion.
A financial, legal and political firestorm ensued. SCANA's stock price tanked. The company was forced to slash its dividend to conserve cash.
After countless hearings and days of testimony, state regulators determined that the Dominion buyout offer was the best option. They approved the deal earlier this month.
The purchase will give the buyer control of a former Fortune 500 business with more than 2 million electric and natural-gas customers in the Carolinas and Georgia. It also means that most of the Palmetto State's power grid will be controlled by out-of-state companies.
The terms of the acquisition include the requirement that Dominion keep SCE&G's headquarters in the Midlands, add a SCANA director to its board and offer workers some post-merger assurances.
The companies didn't say last week when they expect to formally tie the knot, but this much seems clear: Shares of SCANA will be off the market for good Monday, once the closing bell rings for the last time in 2018.