Allegheny, FirstEnergy shareholders approve of merger to create largest electric utilityShareholders in Allegheny Energy and FirstEnergy have approved a merger between the two companies.

The energy providers - based in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and Akron, Ohio, respectively - have received the go-ahead from their shareholders to complete a proposed $8.5 billion deal that would merge the two companies to create the nation's largest electric utility.

Owners of 80 percent of Allegheny's outstanding shares voted in favor of the deal. The news comes just a few days after 75 percent of FirstEnergy shareholders in Akron gave their approval. However, the deal isn't inked quite yet; the two companies must still win approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and utility commissions in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia - approval that is expected to come in the first half of 2011.

"Allegheny is a natural fit for our company," said FirstEnergy chief executive Anthony Alexander. "Through this merger, we expect to strengthen our balance sheet, increase our earnings and create new opportunities for future growth."
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