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Liberty Energy to Pay $124M for Atmos Utilities

Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. (APUC) affiliate Liberty Energy Utilities Co. will pay about $124 million for Atmos Energy Corp.'s regulated gas distribution assets in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois, the companies said Friday.

The transaction is subject to conditions including state and federal regulatory approval and is expected to occur in 2012. Liberty intends to make offers of continuing employment to all current employees, according to Ontario-based APUC.

The utilities provide local distribution service to about 57,000 gas customers in Missouri, 23,000 in Illinois and 4,000 in Iowa. Atmos said the customers are predominantly residential and commercial and represent less than 3% of its three million natural gas customers. The deal will reduce the number of states in which Atmos operates from 12 to nine, with about 80% of its remaining utility operations in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

"The proceeds from this transaction will be redeployed to fund growth opportunities in other jurisdictions we serve," Atmos said.

In December Liberty said it would pay National Grid USA $285 million for Granite State Electric Co. and EnergyNorth Natural Gas Inc., which serve a total of 126,000 gas and electric customers in New Hampshire (see Daily GPI, Dec. 10, 2010). That deal is expected to close later this year.

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