After nearly two years of leaping regulatory hurdles, Houston-based CenterPoint Energy priced a $1.25 billion rate reduction bond offering last week. The deal is to be the first chunk off a $1.85 billion RRB program approved this spring, with the next $600 million offering slated to hit the market sometime in 1Q05. Credit Suisse First Boston, Lehman Brothers and RBS Greenwich Capital led the current deal, which priced Friday morning, after ASR went to press.

The deal was structured into five tranches, each rated triple-A by Fitch Ratings, Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's and priced to swaps. The $166 million two-year tranche of the deal was being talked in the three basis points below swaps area, the $253 million five-year tranche of the deal was talked flat to swaps and the $166 million 7.5-year tranche was talked in the five basis points over swaps area. The $351 million 10 year tranche was talked in the six basis points to seven basis points range and the $312 million 12.7-year tranche talked in the 12 to 13 basis points over swaps area. A source close to the deal said it could be upsized.

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