Duke gets provincial OK for Westcoast deal

Duke Energy Corp has received approval from Canada’s British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) to gain indirect control of the public utilities owned wholly or in part by Westcoast Energy Inc., according to a statement issued Wednesday.

The Westcoast Energy utilities subject to the BCUC approval include Pacific Northern Gas Ltd., Pacific Northern Ltd., Centra Gas British Columbia Inc. and Centra Gas Whistler Inc.

The order issued by the BCUC is not expected to impact the previously announced separate agreements Westcoast Energy has reached with other parties to sell all of the common shares of Centra BC and Centra Whistler for approximately Cdn$208m.

At the same time, Duke Energy and Westcoast Energy also announced they have received a request for additional information and documentary material from the US Federal Trade Commission following from the FTC’s Hart-Scott-Rodino Act review of the proposed acquisition of Westcoast Energy by Duke Energy.

“This request is a routine part of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act review of large transactions such as the proposed acquisition,” the company said. Duke offered $8.5bn for natural gas pipeline and utility operator Westcoast, including assumed debt.

If the acquisition arrangement is approved by Westcoast Energy’s common shareholders and optionholders, and subject to the arrangement being approved by the British Columbia Supreme Court and the other conditions of closing being satisfied or waived, Duke Energy and Westcoast Energy expect the acquisition will be completed during the first quarter 2002.

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