Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. (APUC) is assuming Laclede Group Inc.’s right to buy New England Gas Co. (NEG), Laclede said late Monday.

Last December, St. Louis, MO-based Laclede said it was buying NEG along with Missouri Gas Energy from Southern Union Co. (see Daily GPI, Dec. 18, 2012). NEG serves 50,000 gas customers in Massachusetts.

“While we had made plans for welcoming New England Gas Co. into the Laclede family, Algonquin presented an offer to purchase New England Gas,” said Laclede CEO Suzanne Sitherwood. “In addition to being a strong utility operator like Laclede, Algonquin brings with it the advantage of already having operations in the region. Accordingly, this transaction will provide value to both our shareholders and NEG’s customers, without affecting the rest of the acquisition.”

APUC is a renewable energy and regulated utility company. Its Liberty Utilities unit provides water, electricity and natural gas services to more than 330,000 customers in seven states.

“The New England Gas acquisition further expands APUC’s footprint in the eastern United States region and will integrate well with our existing New England utility operations,” said APUC CEO Ian Robertson. “The acquisition again demonstrates our ability to acquire attractive utility operations in the United States, particularly in supportive regulatory environments such as Massachusetts.”

APUC’s acquisition of NEG is subject to approval from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. Laclede and Southern Union filed for regulatory approval of their transaction with the department on Jan. 24. The parties said they will now work to amend that filing to include approval of APUC’s acquisition of NEG.

The companies expect to close the transactions before the end of the third quarter. The transactions do not impact Laclede’s acquisition of Southern Union’s Missouri Gas Energy.

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