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Sempra Buys Dominion's Argentine Interests

Sempra Buys Dominion's Argentine Interests

Two U.S. energy giants with divergent approaches to overseas investments cut a deal announced Tuesday with Dominion Resources, Inc., continuing to sell off its foreign investments and Sempra Energy continuing to expand its plays out of the country. Sempra paid $145 million in cash for Dominion's 21.5% interest in holding companies for natural gas distribution companies in central and southern Argentina and a 25% interest in the parent company for a Buenos Aires electric utility.

San Diego, CA-based Sempra increases its share of the two gas properties to 43% and added the electricity ownership in a country in which it has held energy stakes for the past five years. Richmond, VA-based Dominion acquired the interests in the Argentine gas and electric utilities when it bought Consolidated Natural Gas Co. in January 2000.

Dominion Resources' CEO Thomas Capps noted that this deal "completes our exit from Latin America and further concentrates our resources on (U.S.) expansion efforts in the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions." Sempra, on the other hand, "effectively doubled" its gas utility stake in Argentina, according to Don Felsinger, chairman of Sempra Energy International.

The sale does not require any U.S. approvals, but it will require approval by anti-trust authorities in Argentina. The companies said they expect that process to be completed this fall.

Richard Nemec, Los Angeles

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