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Nicor To Restate Earnings Amid Probe

Aug 14, 2002 | AP

Missing a key government deadline, Nicor Inc. said Wednesday its top executives were unable to certify the company's 2002 financial statements because of uncertainties surrounding results of its gas distribution unit.

The energy holding company announced it was restating first- and second-quarter earnings amid ongoing investigations, including what it said is an informal inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

It characterized the new results as interim and said unresolved issues leave open the possibility of another revision, preventing its new accountant from completing a review.

Nicor fired Arthur Andersen as its auditor in May and replaced it with Deloitte & Touche.

The Naperville, Ill.-based company's financial results have been publicly in question since last month, when it became known that state officials were investigating allegations of accounting improprieties involving the way it recorded its natural gas purchases. In reporting second-quarter results in July, the company said it had overestimated sales of natural gas at Nicor Energy, the retail energy joint marketing venture it co-owns with Dynegy Inc.

Nicor said Wednesday it had revised earnings downward after a further review of Nicor Energy and its natural gas rate plan, reducing net income by 2 cents per share for the first six months of 2002.

The company, which gets the bulk of its revenue from gas distributor Nicor Gas, said it is cooperating fully with the Illinois Commerce Commission and other governmental agencies investigating its performance-based rate plan.

It wasn't immediately clear if Nicor would face any consequences for missing Wednesday's certification deadline. There is no penalty for companies that fail to meet it, although the SEC has the option of seeking court action against laggards. The agency also can grant short extensions in some cases.

Nicor's top two executives, Thomas Fisher, chairman and CEO, and Kathleen Halloran, executive vice president for finance did certify Nicor's prior results Wednesday in compliance with the new SEC rule.

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