Montana Power’s shareholders approve acquisition by NorthWestern Corp.

Vote brings deal one step closer to fruition

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Sept. 24, 2001 — NorthWestern Corp.’s acquisition of The Montana Power Company moved forward another step Friday with the supermajority approval of MPC’s shareholders.

NorthWestern is purchasing the Montana Power utility for $1.1 billion — $602 million in cash and the assumption of $488 million of debt. Shareholders representing approximately 70 percent of the outstanding common stock of The Montana Power Company approved the sale of the company’s utility to NorthWestern.

“We are pleased that the shareholders of Montana Power have approved the sale,” said Merle Lewis, chairman and chief executive officer of NorthWestern Corporation. “This was an important step toward completing the partnering of these two successful energy businesses and creating a premier regional energy provider.”

Richard Hylland, NorthWestern’s president and chief operating officer, noted that in addition to Montana Power shareholder approval, the transaction has also received approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Justice Department.

“When this transaction is completed, NorthWestern and Montana Power together will focus on continuing to provide the highest levels of service reliability and customer satisfaction along with stable energy rates to our customers while supporting the communities we serve throughout the Upper Plains and Northwest regions of the United States,” Hylland said.

The remaining approval for the sale of the utility to NorthWestern involves the Montana Public Service Commission deeming NorthWestern to be fit, willing and able to continue providing electricity and natural gas services to Montana Power’s nearly 440,000 customers.

“We look forward to moving quickly with the Montana Public Service Commission to demonstrate that NorthWestern is able to operate successfully in the best interest of Montana Power customers,” said Mike Hanson, president and chief executive officer of NorthWestern Service Group, NorthWestern’s energy and related-services business segment. “We filed amended testimony on August 27, and we are confident that the Commission and the Montana Consumer Counsel are committed to work with NorthWestern and Montana Power to obtain the remaining regulatory approvals as soon as possible.”

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 Midwestern customers; Expanets, the largest mid-market provider 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. Further information about NorthWestern is available on the Internet at http://www.northwestern.com

SOURCE: NorthWestern Corporation

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