Calpine buying Noble Americas Energy for nearly $1 billion

Houston’s Calpine Corp. said it will buy one of the nation’s industrial electricity providers, Noble Americas Energy Solutions, for nearly $1 billion.

The move continues to boost the power generator’s retail electricity arm, which includes buying Houston-based Champion Energy last year. While Champion primarily sells electricity to households, Noble Americas focuses on commercial sales.

San Diego-based Noble Americas Energy Solutions, or NAES, is being sold by Asian commodities trading giant, Hong-Kong-based Noble Group, which is trying to reduce its debt. The Noble Group has for months said it was trying to sell NAES, which sells electricity to commercial and industrial customers, and also provides risk-management services.

The sale is for $800 million, as well as at least $100 million in liquid assets. Calpine said the deal has roughly $100 million in working capital — current assets minus current liabilities — while Noble Group said it could be almost $250 million. The final amount will depend on the amount of capital at closing, which is expected to occur by the end of the year.

Calpine President and Chief Executive Thad Hill said the deal gives his company the “best commercial and industrial direct energy sales platform in the U.S.”

“The acquisition of this well-regarded organization known for providing sophisticated customers with highly customized products is a natural fit with Calpine’s customer-centric culture, and will allow us to build upon the success we have experienced since our entry into retail last year through the Champion Energy platform,” Hill added.

Calpine owns the nation’s largest fleet of natural gas-fired power plants. The Noble deal gives Calpine industrial electricity sales in 18 states, including Texas, California, the Northeast and mid-Atlantic.

NAES President Jim Wood said in a prepared statement he’s thrilled to join the Calpine team.

“Our customers should know that we will continue to provide the same high level of services and product offerings during the ownership transition and, when under the Calpine banner, we expect to provide even greater value-added products and services,” he added.

Calpine, which exited bankruptcy in 2008, moved from California to Houston in 2009. The company has grown through its reliance on natural gas-fired power plants as federal regulations have hurt coal-fired plants. The company has about 2,000 employees, including around 800 in the region.