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Melrose buying Elster Group for about $2.3 billion

NEW YORK (AP) -- British investment firm Melrose PLC is buying German electricity, gas and water measurement and control provider Elster Group SE for about $2.3 billion.

Melrose, which concentrates on engineering companies, said Friday that it will pay $20.50 per American depositary share. The offer represents a 6 percent premium to Elster's $19.37 Thursday closing price on the New York Stock Exchange.

Elster, which is based in Essen, Germany, has about 112.9 million outstanding shares, according to FactSet.

London-based Melrose said that it will pay for the buyout with a 1.2 billion pound ($1.88 billion) rights offering and debt.

Elster said it expects to continue operating as an independent company, with Melrose CEO Simon Peckham and Elster Chief Legal Officer Thomas Preute serving as managing directors. Melrose Chief Financial Officer will become Elster's CFO. Elster's current CFO, Rainer Beaujean, plans to pursue other opportunities.

Elster's board has unanimously approved the deal.

Shares of Elster Group's American depositary shares gained 91 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $20.28 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock hit a new 52-week high of $20.33 earlier in the session.