From WBTV …

CHARLOTTE — Duke Energy says they will acquire Piedmont Natural Gas for approximately $4.9 billion in cash. The announcement was made Monday morning.

The boards of directors unanimously approved a definitive agreement for Duke Energy to acquire Piedmont Natural Gas.

The companies are key partners in the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline that will be the first major natural gas pipeline to serve eastern North Carolina.

“We look forward to welcoming Piedmont’s employees and one million customers in the Carolinas and Tennessee to Duke Energy,” President and CEO of Duke Energy Lynn Goode said. “This combination provides us with a growing natural gas platform, benefitting our customers, communities and investors.”

Piedmont shareholders will receive $60 in cash for each share of Piedmont Natural Gas common stock, Duke Energy says. There is around a 40 percent premium to Friday’s closing price.

Duke Energy will assume around $1.8 billion of Piedmont Natural Gas existing net debt, representing a total enterprise value of around $6.7 billion, the company says.

The combined companies will have a total of 31,100 employees (Duke Energy: 29,200; Piedmont: 1,900).

“The strategic combination of our two companies will deliver compelling value to our shareholders, greatly expand our platform for future growth, enhance our ability to provide excellence in customer service and give our employees more opportunities in one of the largest energy companies in the United States,” said Tom Skains, chairman, president and CEO of Piedmont Natural Gas.

Duke Energy says Piedmont Natural Gas will retain its name and operate as a business unit of Duke Energy, maintaining its headquarters in southeast Charlotte. One of Piedmont Natural Gas’ directors will joint Duke’s board.

Skains says it is an exciting moment for Piedmont Natural Gas and its shareholders, customers and employees. Piedmont Natural Gas began operations in 1951 in Charlotte.

Duke Energy was founded in 1904.

The companies target to close by the end of 2016. Piedmont shareholders and the North Carolina Utilities Commission still need to approve the acquisition.

Duke Energy acquiring Piedmont Natural Gas for $4.9 billion in cash