Hawaiian Electric Industries says it has not received a formal buyout proposal from a private investor, but the company says it’s willing to evaluate one.

Late Thursday, the news broke that a new Hawaii-based company called Kuokoa Inc. is seeking to buy Hawaiian Electric Industries and take it private.

Friday afternoon, the utility company that supplies electricity to every major Hawaiian island except Kauai issued a statement in response:

We are a publicly traded company so our company shares can be bought by any member of the public. As a publicly traded company, we have a fiduciary obligation to our shareholders, customers and community to consider any valid proposal to purchase our company. If we receive a formal proposal, we will evaluate it, but we have nothing to date. We were contacted by Mr. Marth for the first time last night by email, but have had no discussions. As a matter of policy, HEI will not comment further on the existence or consideration of an offer in the event we receive one and will conduct any discussions directly with those involved.

Roald Marth is CEO of Kuokoa. The company president is Ted Peck, the state’s former energy administrator, and the chairman is Big Island farmer Richard Ha.

Honolulu-based HEI is the holding company for Hawaiian Electric Co. on Oahu, Maui Electric Co. on Maui, and Hawaii Electric and Light Co. on the Big Island and American Savings Bank.

In other developments, Pacific Business News reported that Kuokoa would sell American Savings Bank if it is successful with its purchase.

PBN also said Marth said he has heard rumors that mainland companies have also expressed interest in taking over HEI.

The stock price for HEI, which trades as HE on the NYSE, opened today at $23.87 a share, spiked to well over $26 and then closed at $24.76 a share, up 3.7 percent for the day.

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