FTC grants Northwestern anti-trust clearance for pending acquisition of Montana Power’s utility business

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Jan. 30, 2002 — The Federal Trade Commission granted NorthWestern Corporation’s request for early termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR Act) for its pending acquisition of The Montana Power Company’s energy transmission and distribution business.

NorthWestern initially filed notification, and, on Jan. 17, 2001, received early termination of the applicable waiting period under the HSR Act. Because this initial notification expired one year following the grant of early termination, NorthWestern refiled an application under the HSR Act on Jan. 10, 2002, and again requested early termination of the waiting period. The clearance was received on Jan. 29, 2002.

With the FTC clearance, NorthWestern has now received all regulatory approvals to complete the Montana Power transaction. A formal order from the Montana Public Service Commission, which unanimously approved the transaction yesterday, is expected Jan. 31, 2002. NorthWestern has also obtained all necessary financing to complete the acquisition. The transaction, which is subject to customary closing requirements, is expected to be completed in the next few weeks.

NorthWestern entered into an agreement in October 2000 to purchase Montana Power’s utility business for $602 million in cash and the assumption of $488 million of existing debt, subject to certain closing conditions and provisions included in the agreement. The transaction will broaden NorthWestern’s regional energy service area from eastern South Dakota and central Nebraska with an additional 446,000 electricity and natural gas customers in Montana.

NorthWestern Corporation, a FORTUNE 500 company, is a provider of services and solutions to more than 2 million customers across America in the energy and communications sectors.

NorthWestern’s partner entities include NorthWestern Services Group, a provider of electric, natural gas and communications services to Upper Plains customers; Expanets, one of the largest mid-market providers of networked communications solutions and services in the United States; Blue Dot, a provider of air conditioning, heating, plumbing and related services; and CornerStone Propane Partners L.P., one of the nation’s largest retail propane distribution entities.

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