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CenterPoint, OGE hit highs on partnership plans

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of CenterPoint Energy Inc. and OGE Energy Corp. both hit record highs Friday after they and another energy company announced plans to combine some of their natural gas assets to form a master limited partnership.

THE SPARK: CenterPoint, OGE and privately held ArcLight Capital Partners LLC said late Thursday that the new partnership will boost their scale, geographic reach and other capabilities to allow them to compete in a way none of the entities could do on their own.

THE BIG PICTURE: The deal combines CenterPoint's interstate pipelines and field services and the midstream business of Enogex LLC, which is jointly owned by subsidiaries of OGE Energy and ArcLight.

The partnership will own and operate 8,400 miles of interstate pipelines, 11,000 miles of gathering lines and storage and processing facilities.

CenterPoint Energy, OGE Energy and ArcLight will have 59 percent, 28 percent and 13 percent stakes respectively. The companies said they plan to eventually sell equity in the partnership through an initial public offering.

The partnership's formation is expected to be completed in the second or third quarter.

THE ANALYSIS: Jefferies analyst Paul Fremont backed his "Hold" rating for OGE, adding that tax benefits related to the partnership could boost OGE's earnings by about $2.50 to $3 per share.

THE SHARES: In heavy morning trading, CenterPoint rose $1.16, or 5.3 percent, to $23, after hitting a more than 10-year high of $24 earlier in the day. Meanwhile OGE shares rose $4.50, or 7.3 percent, to $65.85 after hitting an all-time high of $67.63 earlier in the session.