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Columbia Offers to Buy National Propane

Columbia Offers to Buy National Propane

In an effort to grow its nonregulated business sector, Columbia Energy Group's Columbia Propane Corp. recently announced a tender offer to acquire National Propane Partners for $80.4 million. The offer expires April 9. National Propane shareholders will vote in early May.

In addition to paying $12 each for 6.7 million shares of National Propane, Columbia offered to refinance $141 million of National's debt. The combined propane company would serve a total of 510,000 customers from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast to the Southeast, Midwest, and western regions of the U.S. In 1998, National Propane sold 144 million gallons of propane and Columbia sold 66.5 million gallons.

Columbia has set a goal to have 30% of its operating revenue generated from nonregulated activities by year-end 2001. Al Rankin, a Columbia spokesman, said this offer demonstrates Columbia's intent to achieve that goal. "This would be a good acquisition for Columbia Propane. Propane is a big part of our nonregulated businesses, and it has continued to grow and be profitable for us."

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