Shareholders approve AGL-Nicor merger with goal to close by the end of the year

By Maria Saporta

Shareholders of AGL Resources Tuesday morning approved the pending merger between the Atlanta-based natural gas company and Nicor Inc., which is based in Naperville, Ill.

The meeting was relatively short as more than 90 percent of the votes cast approved the merger. There were no questions from shareholders during the meeting.

About 95 percent of the shares cast approved increasing the number of AGL board seats from 15 to 16. Currently, AGL has 12 directors. The vote will permit ACL to add four members of Nicor’s board to the board of the merged company.

Shareholders of Nicor also met Tuesday morning an hour after AGL’s meeting, and they also approved the merger.

John Somerhalder, AGL’s chairman and CEO, told shareholders how the two companies were “highly complementary” and that it was a good transaction for shareholders, employees and customers.

“It is actually a big moment,” Somerhalder said after the meeting about the shareholder vote.

The AGL-Nicor merger will catapult the Atlanta-based utility into the Fortune 500 category. The combined company will have a market cap of $4.7 billion, annual revenues of $4.8 billion, 6,400 total employees in seven states serving millions of customers.

“Obviously, this transaction provides us size and scale,” Somerhalder said.

Before the AGL-Nicor deal can close, the merger must be approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission, similar to Georgia’s Public Service Commission.

Somerhalder said that the ICC recommended a denial of AGL’s application to acquire Nicor.

But Somerhalder said that AGL and Nicor are working with the ICC on the various concerns the commission has about the deal.

“We agreed with staff on a number of issues,” Somerhalder said. And on the other outstanding issues, Somerhalder said he believes “there’s a reasonable path towards resolution.”

The ICC has to make a decision by Dec. 16, but it actually could occur before that date.

“Assuming the resolution of those issues, we expect to close the transaction in the second half of the year,” Somerhalder said. Even if the ICC waits until Dec. 16 to make its decision, Somerhalder said: “It still would be possible to close by the end of the year.”

Once the deal was closed, the combined company would help solidify AGL’s position as one of Atlanta’s top corporations.

“We obviously think it’s very positive for the company and our industry,” Somerhalder said. “It really puts us in a solid position to grow this business.”

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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