Xcel denies merger talks; reviewing NRG options

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Feb. 8, 2002 -- Xcel Energy Inc. Friday denied it is in merger talks, but the Minneapolis utility holding company said it continues to review its options with regard to subsidiary NRG Energy.

"We are not in negotiations with any company with regard to possible mergers," said CEO Wayne Brunetti said.

Brunetti also said Xcel's board of director has made no decision about the company's options with respect to its 74%-owned subsidiary NRG Energy but continues to analyze them. NRG, and other independent power producers, remain under pressure because of falling electricity prices and Wall Street concern about debt levels. Its share price is down to $9.56/share from a 52-week high of $37.70 in midmorning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

NRG announced Jan. 30 it will build 6,430 Mw less of generating capacity by 2005 than it originally planned. NRG previously stated its growth projection was 37,000 Mw by 2005.

As a result of project cancellations and construction deferrals, NRG's revised growth projection is 30,570 Mw by 2005. The company said it will also will reduce 2002 construction expenditures by $1.1 billion but will invest $1.9 billion to complete facilities already under way. NRG said it will sell 650 Mw this year raising $350-$400 million.

During a teleconference earlier this year, Xcel executives declined to say if they were contemplating repurchasing NRG shares. Xcel also said Friday it filed for securities sales of up to $1 billion.

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