By BOB ANEZ Associated Press Writer
HELENA - A new nonprofit corporation formed by five city governments offered bankrupt NorthWestern Corp. $1.26 billion today for its utility transmission and distribution system in Montana.
The proposal, approved unanimously by directors of the Montana Public Power Inc., includes $900 million in cash and assumption of $358 million in the company's debts and other financial obligations.
The offer, if approved by NorthWestern's major creditors and various state and federal regulators, could result in the cities taking over operation of the utility's operations by early next year, officials said.
Mike Kadas, Missoula mayor and chairman of Montana Public Power's board, said the company's offer would allow for at least a three-year rate freeze while still allowing for payments on the $900 million that would have to be borrowed through the sale of bonds.
''We feel this is an excellent deal for Montanans,'' he said.
NorthWestern officials had not seen the proposal and had no immediate comment.