Duke Energy, the largest U.S. power company by generation capacity, said Monday it’s acquiring Piedmont Natural Gas for $6.7 billion in cash and debt assumption, expanding by 66% its natural gas distribution business.
Duke offered $60 in cash for each Piedmont share, representing a premium of roughly 42% to the stock’s Friday close, Kallanish Energy calculates. Duke will assume roughly $1.8 billion of Piedmont’s net debt.
“This combination provides us with a growing natural gas platform, benefitting our customers, communities and investors,” said Lynn Good, Duke’s CEO.
Stable natural gas pricing has prompted a number of U.S. power producers to boost their natural gas infrastructure and lower dependence on power generation as demand for electricity weakens due to increased energy efficiency.
Southern Co. said in August it would buy AGL Resources for roughly $8 billion in cash.
Duke currently sells power to 7.3 million customers in North and South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky at regulator-set rates. It also provides regulated natural gas services to roughly 500,000 customers in Ohio and Kentucky.
Piedmont has about 1 million customers in North and South Carolina and Tennessee.
Duke and Piedmont are part of the builder-owner consortium of the $5 billion, 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which moves gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale play to North Carolina and Virginia. AGL also has a 5% stake in Atlantic.
Duke said it will raise about $500-$750 million through newly issued equity to help finance the deal.
Piedmont will retain its name, operate as a business unit of Duke Energy and maintain its headquarters (like Duke) in Charlotte.
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