Northwestern Corp. completes acquisition of Montana Power’s transmission and distribution business

SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Feb. 15, 2002 — NorthWestern Corp. today announced the completion of its acquisition of The Montana Power Company’s energy transmission and distribution business.

“With the combination of the NorthWestern and Montana Power energy operations, NorthWestern becomes one of the region’s premier electric and natural gas providers,” said Merle D. Lewis, chairman and chief executive officer of NorthWestern. “Also, this combination creates a greater regional scale for NorthWestern that will allow us to realize the full value of our existing energy assets and provides a strong platform for future growth.”

The transaction is valued at $1.09 billion, including $602 million in cash and the assumption of approximately $488 million in debt, and will enhance NorthWestern’s annual regulated energy revenues by more than $600 million, substantially increase cash flow and will be immediately accretive to the company’s earnings.

According to Richard R. Hylland, NorthWestern president and chief operating officer, the completed transaction provides NorthWestern with approximately 22,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines and 269 electric substations serving customers in 36 of Montana’s 56 counties, along with 5,300 miles of underground natural gas transmission and distribution lines serving customers in 28 of Montana’s 56 counties. “Even more important than these energy business assets, NorthWestern is adding more than 1,000 new team members committed to service excellence for our more than 450,000 new Montana energy customers,” Hylland said.

Michael J. Hanson, president and chief executive officer of NorthWestern’s energy businesses, pointed out that NorthWestern is bringing to Montana nearly 80 years of experience in effective management of energy distribution operations and an impressive record of providing award-winning reliability, excellent service, stable prices and consistent financial performance.

“Over the past 16 months, we have worked closely with consumer groups, regulators, public officials, environmental groups and Montana Power team members across the state on a variety of challenging energy issues. NorthWestern worked hard to provide innovative solutions to assure that our customers receive reliable, competitively priced energy for years to come,” said Hanson. “This experience has reinforced our belief that this transaction will yield important benefits to all our stakeholders. We look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand with all stakeholders to provide our customers and the communities we serve with progressive energy solutions and customer care excellence that exceed their expectations.”

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 and Northwest 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. (NYSE: CNO – news), one of the nation’s largest retail propane distribution entities. Further information about NorthWestern is available on the Internet at www.northwestern.com.


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