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Plug Power Acquires ReliOn to Gain its Own Fuel-Cell Technology

Plug Power Inc., the fuel-cell company that’s the best performer on the Nasdaq in the past year, agreed to buy a supplier of fuel-cell components.

The company paid about $4 million in stock for ReliOn Inc., Latham, New York-based Plug said today in a statement.

The deal gives Plug its own fuel-cell technology. The company sells fuel-cell systems that power electric forklifts, using components from Ballard Power Systems Inc. Chief Executive Officer Andy Marsh said this month the company would begin producing its own systems this year.

“One of our objectives in 2014 is to expand our fuel cell stack technology,” Marsh said in the statement. “The addition of this technology from ReliOn is a giant step in that direction.”

The deal also lets Plug offer stationary fuel cells that provide backup power for applications such as mobile-phone towers. Fuel cells use natural gas or hydrogen to produce electricity through a chemical reaction.

The acquisition will be accretive to earnings next year, according to the statement. It will drag down earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization by about $1 million this year, though Plug expects to report positive EBITDA for 2014.

Plug shares have increased more than 3,700 percent in the past 12 months. They slipped 0.8 percent to $7.48 at the close in New York.

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