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Northern Indiana utility might attract suitors, analyst says

February 6, 2016

The parent company of NIPSCO, the electric and natural gas company serving northern Indiana, could be the next big energy company up for sale, an analyst believes.

focus-briefs-021516-15col.jpg A NIPSCO lineman worked to restore power in LaPorte after a 2013 storm. (AP photo)

Michael Worms, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets, told Bloomberg News this month that NiSource Inc. could be bought by any number of energy companies seeking to do deals, such as Excelon Corp. or NextEra Energy Inc.

The energy sector has been awash in deals lately, as more utilities are seeking to get into the natural gas business, and demand for that fuel source is rising due to its affordability and abundance.

“There’s more coming after this one,” Worms told Bloomberg. “Gas utilities, many of them, are in the process of replacing aging pipes. That’s incremental [expense]. Buyers are diversifying their electric business by diversifying into another regulated business.”

Worms correctly forecast last fall that Dominion and Duke Energy would buy gas utilities and Questar would be sold.

NiSource, based in Merrillville, operates local utilities in Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. It has more than 800,000 natural-gas customers and 468,000 electric customers. The company has a market value of $6.6 billion.

A NiSource spokesman said the company doesn’t “speculate on M&A activity or potential M&A activity.”•
 

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