Utility merger strategists monetize public franchises for private gain. They buy and sell market position. In competitive markets, market position comes from merit. In utility monopoly markets, market position comes from the government - when it grants an exclusive concession to provide an essential service. That exclusive concession provides the target with a stream of predictable earnings. The acquirer wants control of those earnings - and a chance to leverage the target’s monopoly position into more earnings. As for the target, it seeks maximum gain. Proxy statements reveal that in the merger process, the target acts like an auctioneer, choosing the acquirer that offers the highest price. When a transaction’s primary purpose is monetizing a monopoly position - when the target seeks the highest price rather than the best performer - gain becomes central; customer benefits, incidental.