Bedminster, NJ-based NUI Corp., which stunned the financial community in September by announcing that it would sell its entire business, said Wednesday that it received document subpoenas from the New Jersey Attorney General’s office regarding “certain questionable transactions” at its wholesale energy trading operation.

The parent company and its utility subsidiary have been under investigation by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) through “focused audit” since March. The NJBPU initiated the focused audit because of credit rating downgrades at the company and “concerns raised during a competitive services audit.”

In the process of the focused audit, the NJBPU apparently uncovered “questionable transactions” within NUI Energy Brokers. The company did not provide any further details regarding the transactions. NUI said it will “cooperate fully” with the attorney general and with the NJBPU.

The audit committee of NUI’s board previously had retained independent counsel to conduct an internal investigation into the transactions at NUI Energy Brokers, the company said. “While the audit committee’s investigation is ongoing, based on information received to date, NUI does not believe that the amounts in question are material to NUI,” the company added. “Upon completion of the investigation, NUI will take appropriate action to remedy any possible misconduct.”

NUI also announced it is continuing to pursue the refinancing of certain of its outstanding indebtedness, which it expects to close next week.

The company hopes to find buyers for its gas businesses by the end of the first quarter of next year, according to a company spokesman In September, NUI said a sale of its entire integrated natural gas business would be in the best interests of all stakeholders going forward because of credit downgrades and “adverse business conditions” (see Daily GPI, Sept. 29). It already has signed an agreement to sell its telecommunications operations. Any sale of its gas businesses will take about nine-12 months to complete.

NUI Corp. is the parent company of Elizabethtown Gas Co. in New Jersey, City Gas Co. of Florida and Elkton Gas Co. in Maryland.

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