TransCanada Selling Stake in Iroquois Gas Pipeline – to Itself

Companies in the oil and gas space, in particular midstream (pipeline) companies, have complicated ownership structures on paper. There are usually a number of subsidiary companies. Sometimes these companies have a “mother ship” which is owned by stockholders, and a subsidiary that is a master limited partnership (MLP), which is a different kind of corporate structure. MLPs don’t have shares of stock but instead issue units (about the same thing as shares of stock). MLPs give the unitholders certain tax advantages not offered to stockholders. Yes, its complicated. The important thing to know is that often these large pipeline companies have layers within layers. Which is the setup for this story. TransCanada, which purchased Columbia Pipeline Group last year for $10 billion (see TransCanada and Columbia Pipeline Tie the Knot Today). TransCanada controls another subsidiary called TC PipeLines, an MLP. On Monday, TransCanada issued a notice that it intends to “sell” its ownership stake in the Iroquois Gas Transmission System (an important Marcellus pipeline) along with its remaining ownership in Portland Natural Gas Transmission System (PNGTS), a New England pipeline, to its TC PipeLines subsidiary. Why? To raise money. How can a company selling something to itself raise money?…

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