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Babcock & Brown Revises Bid for NorthWestern Energy

Australia's Babcock & Brown Infrastructure said Tuesday it has revised its $2.2 billion (1.63 billion euros) proposal to buy U.S. utility NorthWestern Energy after initial indications last month that Montana state regulators will block the deal.

Babcock & Brown said it has put together an offer that is much better for ratepayers _ a big concern for the Montana Public Service Commission, or PSC. The PSC was scheduled to meet later Tuesday in the U.S. to talk about its final order against the deal.

Commissioner Bob Raney said Monday in the U.S. that the PSC would expand its work to talk about the new deal, which he called a "major revision, almost a new proposal."

Babcock & Brown and NorthWestern say they have worked out a new transaction that promises a more stable utility and more protection for ratepayers.

The companies announced a plan that calls for BBI to invest at least $380 million in the utility, spend up to $200 million in new assets making electricity at regulated rates, reduce the debt in transaction and give ratepayers a one-time credit of $20 million.

Babcock & Brown also said it will commit to own the utility for at least 10 years after the transaction.

NorthWestern provides gas and electricity to around 629,000 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Tuesday in Australia Babcock & Brown Infrastructure shares were up 2.34% at A$1.75 (US$1.48; 1.10 euros).