TransCanada Corp.’s $13 billion plan to acquire Columbia Pipeline Group Inc. (CPG) crossed a major threshold Wednesday as CPG’s shareholders voted to approve the deal.

Roughly 95.33% of CPG shareholders voted in favor of the proposed merger, fulfilling the transaction’s final major closing condition, with the tie-up expected to be completed by July 1. The merger was announced in March (see Daily GPI, March 17).

“Today’s vote is an important milestone that moves us closer to completing this acquisition and creating one of North America’s leading natural gas transportation and storage companies,” TransCanada CEO Russ Girling said. “Columbia’s assets and development projects are managed by a dedicated employee base with experience and a commitment to operating safely, and we look forward to working with them.”

Girling said the acquisition would “bring greater options for our customers to get their products to markets through one of North America’s largest natural gas transmission networks. Our combined $25 billion in near-term growth opportunities supports, and may augment, an expected 8-10% annual dividend growth rate for our shareholders through 2020.”

Under the terms of the all-cash deal, which has already been approved by both boards, TransCanada would acquire CPG for $25.50/share including the assumption of $2.8 billion in debt.

Houston-based CPG owns one of the largest gas pipeline systems in the United States, including Columbia Gas Transmission, which operates 11,300 miles of pipe and 286 Bcf of storage capacity in the Northeast. It also owns Columbia Gulf Transmission, a 3,300-mile pipeline system that extends from Appalachia to the Gulf Coast.

TransCanada operates 41,300 miles of natural gas pipelines and 368 Bcf of storage across North America, as well as 2,700 miles of liquids pipelines and 10,500 MW of power generation.

Once the merger is completed, CPG would become an indirect subsidiary of TransCanada.