Britain's National Grid Buys U.S. Group KeySpan

National Grid, the biggest British supplier of gas, unveiled on Feb. 27 an $11.8 billion (9.96-billion-euro) takeover of U.S. peer KeySpan, making it the third-biggest energy provider in the U.S. in terms of customer numbers. National Grid would pay $7.3 billion in cash, plus $4.5 billion in debt, the group said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange on Feb. 27.

The purchase would give National Grid 2.6 million gas customers and 1.1 million electricity customers. It would also become the biggest energy provider in the northeastern United States. Following completion of the deal, which is expected in early 2007, National Grid would double its total U.S. business and residential customers to 7.5 million.

The move highlighted the group's strategy of U.S. expansion in the face of consolidation within the European energy sector. "It is our fifth acquisition in the U.S., and is consistent with our strategy of building a substantial energy delivery business," chief executive Roger Urwin said. Just two weeks ago, the group agreed to buy the Rhode Island gas distribution operation from U.S. group Southern Union for $575 million.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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