North Charleston’s InterTech Group floats $5M loan to Ohio gas utility

Anita G. Zucker is CEO of The InterTech Group.

The InterTech Group Inc. is now both an investor in and a creditor to an Ohio-based utility owner.

The North Charleston manufacturing conglomerate is providing Gas Natural Inc. with a $5 million short-term loan through its NIL Funding Corp. affiliate, according to a filing with Securities and Exchange Commission.

The so-called bridge loan is due in six months. It carries an annual interest rate of 7.5 percent.

Cleveland-based Gas Natural said $2.2 million of the proceeds paid off other loans between it and a subsidiary, Energy West Inc. The company also plans to use the NIL funds as working capital while it seeks to refinance its long-term debt.

“This interim financing solution provides Gas Natural with additional liquidity and flexibility, and will accelerate the company’s transformation,” Robert Johnston, InterTech’s chief strategy officer, said in a statement. “We believe Gas Natural is well-positioned to execute its growth strategy, increase its earnings power and ultimately maximize shareholder value.”

Privately held InterTech owns nearly 9 percent of the utility owner’s common stock. It disclosed the nearly $10 million investment in Gas Natural late last year. The shares are held in a trust controlled by InterTech CEO Anita Zucker.

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Gas Natural’s stock has since declined about 13 percent in value since December. InterTech’s investment was valued at about $8.6 million based on Monday’s trading price.

Gas Natural owns regulated utilities that distribute and sells natural gas to about 68,000 residential and business customers in Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, North Carolina and Kentucky. The company also operates interstate pipelines and produces natural gas.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.