Williams is Buying Out Williams Partners Subsidiary for $13.8B

In the oil and gas industry, in both the upstream (drillers) and midstream (pipelines) sectors, companies often split themselves into several different companies on paper. It all has to do with taxes and getting as much money as possible to investors. High finance stuff. The trend lately, however, seems to be going in the reverse direction. Instead of creating subsidiaries on paper, midstream companies are recombining into one larger whole. It happened last November when the stockholders (or unit holders) for four Kinder Morgan companies voted to combine into one mothership company (see Shareholders Approve Kinder Morgan Plan to Merge 4 into 1). A couple of things were notable about that recombination: One thing is that Kinder Morgan is the largest midstream company in the U.S. The second thing is that its founder, Richard Kinder, is the man who pioneered the use of MLPs or Master Limited Partnerships as a way of bumping up profits for shareholders. He reversed himself and knit it all back together, on paper. What is perhaps the country’s second largest midstream company, Williams, is now doing the same thing. Yesterday Williams announced that it is buying out its subsidiary Williams Partners LP in a stock deal valued at $13.8 billion. That is, Williams is buying itself–or rather a piece of itself–and streamlining the corporate structure of the company…

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