GPU Inc. agreed to buy the half of British power provider Midlands Electricity that it doesn't own from Cinergy Corp. for $700 million in cash, giving it a springboard into continental Europe's $300-billion electricity market. GPU, which has 2 million power customers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, also will take on $1.1 billion in debt in the deal. The companies joined to buy Midlands in 1996 for $2.6 billion. Cincinnati-based Cinergy, which has 1.4 million power customers in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, paid $500 million in cash and assumed more than $800 million in debt. Shares in Morristown, N.J.-based GPU rose 25 cents to close at $42.25, while Cinergy rose 6 cents to close at $32.56, both on the NYSE.
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