Missouri Gas Energy, which counts Eastern Jackson County among its 500,000 accounts in western and central Missouri, is getting a new owner.

The Laclede Group, based in St. Louis, is buying MGE from Southern Union Company. The $1.035 billion sale – almost all in cash – also includes Laclede buying New England Gas Company, which has about 50,000 customers in Massachusetts. The companies expect to close the sale by next fall, assuming regulatory approval. The companies’ boards have approved the sale, which does not go to shareholders for approval.

Laclede said MGE is a good fit because it would then serve the two largest metro areas in Missouri and Laclede already knows Missouri regulations well and has a good relationship with regulators.

Laclede Gas Company, a subsidiary of The Laclede Group, serves 630,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in St. Louis and in 10 eastern Missouri counties. MGE, based in Kansas City, provides natural gas service to Eastern Jackson County and much of central and western Missouri, including St. Joseph, Joplin and Monett. Southern Union Company is based in Houston.