PPL to sell propane, distribution businesses

ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA - PPL Corp. of Allentown said it plans to sell its natural gas distribution business, PPL Gas Utilities Corp., and its propane business, Penn Fuel Propane.

The natural-gas company serves about 77,000 customers in 34 Pennsylvania counties and a small area of Maryland. It operates 3,800 miles of pipeline and owns underground gas storage space in three reservoirs in north-central Pennsylvania. The propane business buys wholesale propane and delivers it to 34,000 industrial, commercial and residential customers in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia.

PPL officials said they are selling the businesses because they are a small part of the company. They accounted for about 1 percent of PPL's earnings from ongoing operations last year, the company said.

"Although these businesses have been operationally and financially successful, their relative size and earnings contributions limit their strategic value to PPL's future growth," Chief Operating Officer William Spence said. "We believe the capital investments necessary to maintain and expand these businesses would be better devoted to our core electricity supply and delivery businesses."

PPL has sold business units in El Salvador and Bolivia in the past year to focus on its core business. It has also reached an agreement to sell its telecommunications business. The company expects a sale to be completed during the second half of next year.

It did not name any potential buyers. The company has hired Lehman Brothers as financial adviser during the sales process. PPL ranks as the Valley's fourth-largest employer, with about 2,700 employees in Lehigh and Northampton counties at the start of the year.


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