AGL becomes largest natural gas-only distribution company with Nicor purchase

AGL Resources completed its purchase of Illinois-based Nicor Inc. Friday, creating the nation's largest natural gas-only distribution company, with 4.5 million utility customers in seven states.

The company, which owns Atlanta Gas Light, will remain based in Atlanta. Georgia customers should not expect any changes in their service, the company has said.

The deal also creates a combined retail gas unit with more than 1 million customers and one of the nation's top 10 gas marketers. It has an enterprise value of $9.5 billion.

"Our core strategies are unchanged. The scale and the scope that this gives us is a good foundation for the company," John Somerhalder II, AGL's chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Somerhalder will remain chief executive officer of the combined company. All five members of the executive leadership team are from AGL. An AGL executive also was named as executive vice president and president of Naperville, Ill.-based Nicor Gas, which has 2.2 million customers.

Steve Lindsey has been named the senior vice president of Southern operations and president of Atlanta Gas Light, Florida City Gas and Chattanooga Gas. He replaces former Atlanta Gas Light President Suzanne Sitherwood, who left the company in June to become president of the Laclede Group, a St. Louis-based utility.

Somerhalder told the AJC there will be "reductions necessary in some positions" at the top levels of the company. Meanwhile, he said, AGL has added jobs in Georgia during the past year and has made "job commitments" in Illinois.

Executives expect the combined AGL to be a Fortune 500 company.

Nicor shareholders received $21.20 in cash and .83 shares of AGL Resources common stock for a total of $54.43. The amount is based on the closing price of AGL's common stock on Dec. 8.

The combined company will use Nicor's ticker symbol -- GAS -- starting Dec. 16. Its stock will be added to the S&P 500 Index at the close of trading Dec. 12.