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NiSource gets lucky

Acquirer: NiSourceType of deal: hostile acquisition of Columbia Energy GroupAmount: $14.7 billionAdvisers: Credit Suisse First Boston; Wasserstein Perella; Barclays Capital (financing)

NiSource's hostile takeover of Columbia Energy wins the overall prize for best US M&A deal for several reasons. It was a takeover of a regulated by an unregulated utility by an aggressive firm that secured $6 billion in financing from CSFB and Barclays Capital with a market capitalization of $2 billion.

NiSource's executives and their bankers showed tenacity as their share price dropped over 30% during the course of the battle. The offer finally accepted after an auction was actually below NiSource's final tender offer. It received the quickest ever approval by the regulators of a registered utility deal. And NiSource's stock price has increased over 80% since the deal was accepted.

But it was a long haul. Jamie Welch, managing director, global energy, power and project finance group at CSFB, describes it as a journey rather than a deal. The offer finally accepted by Columbia was submitted in February 2000, and the deal was closed in November.

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