Attacks Delay Vote on Montana Power Asset Divestiture

The terrorist attack on New York delayed a shareholder vote on Montana Power Co.'s planned sale of its gas and power distribution business to NorthWestern Corp. for $602 million in cash and assumption of $488 million in debt. The vote was scheduled to take place on Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Mother Lode Theater in Butte, MT, however the New York company in charge of tabulating the votes was affected by the terrorist attacks. In addition, the New York Stock Exchange was closed and isn't expected to open until today.

The New York firm in charge of tabulating the votes has been closed and it is not clear when they will be able to resume tabulating votes because they are located in an area in close proximity to the decimated World Trade Center, Montana Power said.

Given the circumstances, Montana Power's executive committee directed CEO Robert P. Gannon to convene the Sept. 14 shareholder meeting, determine the existence of a quorum (a quorum will exist if more than 50% of the shares entitled to vote are represented in person or by proxy), and then immediately adjourn the meeting until Sept. 21, 1:30 p.m. MDT, at the Mother Lode Theater in Butte. That will extend the period for receiving votes. Montana Power does not anticipate any other business will be conducted at the Sept. 14 meeting.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all impacted families," Gannon said. "The short adjournment will insure that all shareholders who would have voted, but for the terrorist attack, will have the right to exercise their voting rights."

Montana Power has already sold its oil and gas business to PanCanadian Petroleum of Calgary for $475 million. It sold its independent power operations to Butte-based CES Acquisition Corp. for $84.5 million and sold its coal business to Colorado Springs-based Westmoreland Coal Co. for $183 million.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based NorthWestern said its New York analyst and institutional investor conference scheduled for next Thursday has been postponed. The company said it is reviewing alternative dates for the conference.

The Montana Power operations would be acquired by its NorthWestern Services Group, which already operates NorthWestern Public Service, a utility distributing electricity in eastern South Dakota and gas in central Nebraska.

©Copyright 2001 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.