Deere Sells Wind Energy Business

Company selling wind energy business to subsidiary of Exelon for $900 million, potentially signaling an active merger and acquisition period ahead for power industry.

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) -- Deere & Co. will sell its wind energy business to a subsidiary of Exelon Corp. for $900 million, the company said Tuesday, potentially signaling an active merger and acquisition period ahead for the power industry.

With energy prices persistently low due to a grinding economic recovery, stakes in the power industry have begun to shift.

Earlier this month, Blackstone Group paid $542.7 million to take Houston's Dynergy Inc. private. In a three-way deal, Dynergy also sold four power plants to NRG Energy Inc. for $1.36 billion in cash.

Deere said in February it was reviewing options for John Deere Renewables. It has invested $1 billion over the past five years in the financing, development and ownership of wind energy projects.

On Tuesday, Deere said the deal will allow it to get back to what it does best, which is manufacturing farm equipment.

But the wind business is new to Exelon as well. Exelon is a giant in the nuclear power business.

The subsidiary Exelon Generation Co. is snapping up 352 megawatts of power from five wind projects in Illinois, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The deal comes during a challenging time for the wind power industry in particular. Government stimulus money that helped expand capacity last year is running out. While many states have adopted standards requiring that a certain amount of energy come from renewable sources, Congress has yet to enact a nationwide standard.

Wind advocates say that is why wind has not reached its potential.

Exelon, however, is will positioned to ride out the economic downturn and potentially capitalize on alternative energy assets in the future.

The company reported profits of $2.7 billion last year.

"Whether harmful emissions are priced or regulated, our combined capacity of nearly 19,000 megawatts of zero-emission wind, solar, hydro, landfill gas and nuclear power remains a clear competitive advantage that will only become more valuable," said Exelon Chairman and CEO John Rowe.

Exelon expects the acquisition to add to earnings in 2012 and to cash flows in 2013. It is funding the deal with Exelon Generation debt.

The business includes 36 completed projects in eight states with an operational capacity of 735 megawatts.

Deere said it will record a $25 million after-tax charge in the fourth-quarter. The sale was not reflected in the company's $375 million fourth-quarter earnings estimate from earlier this month.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year.

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