NiSource-Columbia Merger Gains Approvals; Columbia Results
The NiSource-Columbia merger has gotten past two more hurdles on its
way toward completion. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC)
unanimously approved the merger, leaving Virginia as the only state left
out of the nine yet to approve it (see NGI, July.
The commission approved the merger after ensuring that Columbia Gas
of Pennsylvania would adhere to certain requirements. The merger has also
cleared the mandatory waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust
Act at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.
The act requires time for federal agencies to review mergers of a certain
size. Rulings are still pending from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
(FERC) along with the Securities and Exchange Commission. FERC was supposed
to discuss the merger in last Wednesday's regular meeting, but it was pulled
from the agenda.
Meanwhile, Columbia Energy Group posted record setting second quarter
results on Friday. The company reported that its income from continuing
operations for the second quarter was $82.9 million, or a $1.03 per share.
Last year's second quarter income for Columbia was $35.3 million, or 43
cents per share.
The company cited three reasons for the sharp increase. The rise reflects
the profit on the sale of Columbia's Cove Point LNG business, lower labor
costs due to Columbia Gas Transmission's newly implemented voluntary incentive
retirement program (VIRP) and an increase in natural gas production.
After discontinued operations, the company's second quarter net income
was $47.7 million, or 59 cents a share, while last year's net income for
the same period was $26.1 million, or 32 cents per share. Revenues from
the second quarter of $468.5 million remained virtually unchanged from
last year's second quarter mark, while operating income rose $4.8 million
to end at $79.5 million.
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