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Arkansas Examines Arkla Merger Plan

Fortnightly Magazine - February 1 1997

Finding no adverse consequences, but warning that the record was not yet complete, the Arkansas Public Service Commission has granted preliminary approval of a plan for the merger of Houston Industries, Inc., the holding company for Houston Lighting and Power Co., and NorAm Energy Corp., which provides natural gas distribution service in several states via three operating divisions, Arkla, Entex, and Minnegasco.

PSC Approval will remain conditional pending the outcome of related merger proceedings in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Minnesota, as well as before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Under the merger proposal as reviewed by the PSC, Houston Industries would pay $16 per share to acquire Noram, or approximately $2.5 billion.

In examining the proposal, the commission noted that state law "essentially requires" approval of merger applications unless an affirmative finding is made that one or more specific adverse conditions will occur as a result of the merger. Re Houston Industries, Inc., Dkt. No. 96-286-U, Order No. 17, Nov. 6, 1996 (Ark.P.S.C.).

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