Energy veteran Rice's SPAC to take NET Power public in $1.5 bln deal

Dec 14 (Reuters) - A blank-check firm backed by energy industry veteran Daniel Rice will take clean energy producer NET Power public in a deal valued at $1.46 billion including debt.

The deal by Rice Acquisition Corp II (RONI.N) comes as U.S. renewable natural gas producer Archaea Energy Inc (LFG.N), of which Rice is the chairman, is being acquired by oil giant BP Plc (BP.L) in a $4.1 billion deal.

Archaea had listed in 2021 after a SPAC deal with Rice Acquisition Corp I.

Durham, North Carolina-based NET Power combusts natural gas to produce carbon dioxide, which is then either used to generate electricity or sequestered for commercial use.

"Everyone deserves clean, reliable and low-cost energy, but this 'energy trifecta' doesn't exist today," Daniel "Danny" Rice wrote in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday explaining his rationale for betting on NET's technology.

The deal will provide about $535 million of cash to NET Power, including $100 million from the Rice family and $225 million of private-investment-in-public-equity (PIPE) commitments from U.S. shale producer Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY.N), Exelon spinoff Constellation Energy Corp (CEG.O) and 8 Rivers.

Rice was the chief executive of Rice Energy, a U.S. natural gas producer that was acquired by EQT Corp (EQT.N) for $6.7 billion in 2017.

Rice replaces Ron DeGregorio, who served as the president of utility holdings giant Exelon Corp (EXC.O) for about 35 years and has been at the helm of NET for close to two years.

A special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), also known as a blank-check firm, raises money in an initial public offering for the purpose of merging with a private company and taking it public.

NET Power will list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "NPWR". The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2023.

Occidental has been an investor in NET Power since 2018 and said it plans to incorporate NET Power plants into direct-air-capture (DAC) hubs that are part of its carbon sequestration business.

Reporting by Ruhi Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Sriraj Kalluvila

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.