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Williams To Sell Nearly All Power Assets

Updated:
TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Energy company Williams announced Monday it is selling nearly all of its power assets to Bear Energy LP, a unit of The Bear Stearns Companies Inc., for $512 million. It was unclear Monday how many of the 225 employees who work for or support the company's power unit would have positions under Bear Energy, company spokesman Jeff Pounds said.

``Bear has indicated it is interested in offering positions to some employees, but we can't speak for them,'' Pounds said.

The sale is expected to close within six months. The Tulsa-based company plans to sell the remaining $50 million in power assets this year, company officials said.

The deal will help the company focus investment on its core natural gas businesses, reduce financial risk and bolster the company's credit portfolio, among other benefits.

``Our exit from the power business is a natural step forward in Williams' strategy to further increase shareholder value by focusing on and growing our core natural gas businesses,'' said Steve Malcolm, chairman, president and chief executive officer. ``We expect one of the chief benefits this sale will produce for Williams is lower-cost capital.

``That, in turn, drives our market valuation and continued ability to pursue value-creating opportunities,'' he said.

Williams, with operations in the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Gulf Coast, southern California and Eastern seaboard, primarily finds, produces, gathers, processes and transports natural gas.
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