The Laclede Group completes its acquisition of underground facility-locating firm SM&P

ST. LOUIS, Jan. 28, 2002 — The Laclede Group Inc. has completed its acquisition from NiSource Inc. of 100% of the stock of SM&P Utility Resources, Inc., one of the nation’s largest underground locating and marking service businesses. Closing on the $43 million transaction took place today in St. Louis.

“The acquisition of SM&P is a significant first step in achieving The Laclede Group’s goal of creating a growth component with significant, sustainable, non-regulated earnings,” said Douglas H. Yaeger, Laclede’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.

SM&P is one of the two largest companies in a growing industry primarily served by four major players. It performs more than 10 million locates a year, and this year, its revenues will exceed $106 million – up more than 20 percent from the prior year. This represents about one quarter of all the out-sourced locating work done across the nation. SM&P has about 2,000 employees operating in 10 centrally located states -Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.

“This footprint covers an area that is logical for us to pursue, as well as giving us a significant business interest outside of our traditional utility service area located only in Missouri,” Yaeger said.

“The business is related both functionally and geographically to our natural gas distribution operations,” Yaeger said. “It is a successful enterprise that will provide earnings stability and enhances cash flow for The Laclede Group. The business cycle in the industry is counter-seasonal to that of our natural gas distribution utility, Laclede Gas Company. And we expect this acquisition to be accretive to earnings beginning in the current Fiscal 2002.”

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