On Monday evening, public utilities holding company The Laclede Group (NYSE: LG) announced that instead of buying the assets of natural gas utility New England Gas, or NEG, itself -- as it had previously planned -- it will permit Algonquin Power & Utilities to purchase these assets in its stead.

Laclede and Southern Union -- NEG's owner, and an affiliate of Energy Transfer Equity (NYSE:ET) and Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE: ETP) -- were already in the process of getting regulatory approval from Massachusetts for the NEG purchase. So what is really happening here is that Laclede is going to step aside and assist Algonquin in amending the approval paperwork so that Algonquin can complete the purchase transaction.

Laclede, Algonquin, and Southern have already entered into a consent agreement to facilitate this change, and the parties expect actual transfer of ownership -- regulators permitting -- to take place sometime in Q3 2013.

In a statement, Laclede noted that by signing this consent agreement it will "provide value to" its shareholders. Specific details on the financial benefit Laclede will receive by ceding its rights to Algonquin, however, were not disclosed.

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