CEO of Canadian firm leads suggested, and confidential, valuation of Mountain Water Co.

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The CEO of a Canadian firm seeking to buy the water company that serves the city of Missoula leaked what was supposed to be a confidential valuation of the system, an attorney for the city said.

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Attorney Harry Schneider told the Missoulian (http://bit.ly/1QkmVyj) that Algonquin Power and Utilities Corp. CEO Ian Robertson reported to investors during an Aug. 13 call that the current owner — the Carlyle Group — valued Mountain Water at close to $200 million.

"I would point out that the value application — the valuation that is being submitted by Park Water in respect of that valuation process — is close to $200 million," Robertson is quoted as saying in transcripts of the investor call. "We are looking (forward) to completing the acquisition that we signed up for with Carlyle."

Algonquin reached an agreement with the Carlyle Group to buy Mountain Water while the city was pursuing its condemnation claim, which the city eventually won. Carlyle is appealing. Meanwhile, the court is required to determine a fair value for the water system.

District Judge Karen Townsend ordered the Carlyle Group to file its valuation claim under seal so as not to influence a November hearing at which three water commissioners will determine a value.

Schneider informed the court about the apparent breach.

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"The statement was filed under seal pursuant to the court's order and the amount of the claim was to be kept confidential," Schneider wrote on Aug. 19. "We were surprised to learn that such confidential information may have been shared with Ian Robertson," and even more surprised that he made it public during the investor call.

The city is asking Algonquin attorney Mark Stermitz to identify who provided Robertson with the $200 million figure, in what format he received it, and if he was required to sign anything acknowledging it was confidential information.

Algonquin did not return phone calls from the Missoulian or an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

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Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com