DOVER, Del. (AP) ¿ Chesapeake Utilities Corp., a natural gas and propane provider, said Monday that it agreed to acquire Florida Public Utilities Co. for about $73.5 million in stock.

The deal, which is expected to close during the fourth quarter pending regulatory and shareholder approval, was unanimously approved by the boards of both companies on Friday.

Chesapeake expects the addition to create a combined energy company serving about 200,000 customers in the Mid-Atlantic and Florida markets with $595 million in assets.

Under the agreement, Florida Public shareholders will receive 0.405 shares of Chesapeake common stock in exchange for each of their outstanding Florida Public shares.

Based on Chesapeake's Friday closing stock price of $29.65, the deal is worth about $12.01 per Florida Public share, or a total of about $73.5 million based on the company's 6.1 million outstanding shares.

The company valued the deal at about $12.20 per Florida Public share, based on the average of Chesapeake's closing stock price the fifteen trading days prior to Wednesday.

Chesapeake expects the deal to be neutral or slightly increase its earnings in 2010 and meaningfully increase them in 2011.

Chesapeake recognized $291.4 million in revenue and a $13.6 million profit last year, while Florida Public posted $168.5 million in revenue and a $3.5 million profit.

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