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MidAmerican Energy to merge with CalEnergy

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Shortly after MidAmerican Energy closed the deal to purchase a group of realty companies, including Carol Jones, Realtors, CalEnergy and MidAmerican Energy announced a merger.

The merger announcement came Aug. 12, said Carol Jones General Manager Robert Fitzgerald. The deal was the latest in a series of developments that will affect the local realty company.

May 27, MidAmerican completed its purchase of AmerUs Home Services, a company that owned real estate companies in five states: Iowa Realty, in Iowa the state's largest realty firm; First Realty/Better Homes & Gardens in Des Moines, Iowa; Edina Realty in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin; and Carol Jones, Realtors, in Springfield.

The merger is set to close sometime in the first quarter of 1999, Fitzgerald said. CalEnergy will pay $27.15 in cash for each MidAmerican common share outstanding, valuing MidAmerican at approximately $4 billion, including $1.4 billion of debt and preferred stock which will remain outstanding at MidAmerican.

The company will become a wholly owned subsidiary of CalEnergy, which will reincorporate in Iowa and be renamed MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company. Corporate headquarters for the merged company will be in Des Moines, Iowa. CalEnergy's current headquarters is in Omaha, Neb.

CalEnergy owns power generation facilities throughout the world, Fitzgerald said, including properties in the United States, Asia and Europe.

The merged company will be in a good position as the deregulation of the electric industry continues, Fitzgerald said. Missouri has yet to enact a deregulation law.

"What this merger does is offer the company a front door to the consumer. With the holdings they now have in real estate, the company can bring those services right to the potential customer. They recognize that when someone buys a home, one of the first things they do is sign up for utility service," Fitzgerald said.

The merged company will be the third largest real estate entity in the country, Fitzgerald said, and the company will continue to work on expansion.

"For us here at Carol Jones, it feels good because we have the strength and financial depth of this company behind us," Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said he sees no immediate changes in the way things are running at Carol Jones, Realtors. The signs are changing to remove the AmerUs name and replace it with MidAmerican's.

"I think the company likes the management that's in place here, and like the way it's being run. They understand that we're committed to growth," Fitzgerald said.

The size of the company will be of benefit, Fitzgerald said, because it will allow Carol Jones, Realtors, to offer more services to its customers.

"We're already able to offer nice benefits to our sellers, like the CJR Warranty, and we've had numerous comments on our Internet site, which has been called the finest in this market. Having this kind of support will only enhance those types of services," Fitzgerald said.

Locally, the company has been expanding recently. In mid-August, Carol Jones, Realtors, opened an office in Mt. Vernon, which then gave it membership in its third board of Realtors, Fitzgerald said.

The announcement of the merger also comes at a time when AmerUs Bank has officially become Commercial Federal Bank. AmerUs originally came to Springfield as a result of the sale of Carol Jones, Realtors, to the AmerUs company, Fitzgerald said.

Aug. 8, MidAmerican announced that employees of Carol Jones, Realtors, including its agents, who work under contract, could purchase stock in the company at 85 percent of its market value, at up to 15 percent of their annual compensation.

"This is a pretty unique situation for a real estate company. Not only is this the first time the employees and independent contractors are able to purchase stock in the company, but we're one among not many real estate companies that are publicly traded," Fitzgerald said.

MidAmerican has also purchased the two largest real estate companies in Omaha, Neb.: HOME Real Estate and CBS Real Estate Company. The two real estate companies will be merged and conduct business as CBS HOME Real Estate.

Carol Jones, Realtors, was founded by Carol Jones and four agents in Jones' kitchen in 1983. It was sold to Iowa Realty in 1993. Fitzgerald said the company now has 350 agents in its 11 southwest Missouri offices.

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