WESTBOROUGH — Power company New England Electric System

WESTBOROUGH — Power company New England Electric System (NEES) said Monday it had agreed to buy Eastern Utilities Associates in deal worth about $634 million, in the latest consolidation spurred by deregulation in the electricity industry.

In December, NEES said it would merge with National Grid Group, a privately owned British transmission company. In its latest deal, NEES will acquire Boston-based Eastern Utilities for $31 cash per share.

NEES said the combined company will serve 1.6 million electricity customers in 228 New England communities, and will serve more electricity customers in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island than any other company.

About 250 jobs will be lost after the merger, but NEES will aim to trim those jobs through voluntary early retirement and attrition, it said.

Rick Serge, NEES president and chief executive, will become president and chief executive of the combined company. Donald Pardus, Eastern Utilities chairman and chief executive, and John Stevens, Eastern Utilities president and chief operating officer, have opted to retire upon the merger’s close.

NEES said it expects the deal to be completed by early 2000. It said it would finance the acquisition in part with cash from the sale of its generating business last September.

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