Would Williams Sell Its “Crown Jewel” (Transco)? You Bet Your Shoes!

To say that it was a roller coaster ride for Williams in 2016 doesn’t even come close to reality. The company received no less than two takeover/merger attempts. Energy Transfer Equity’s (ETE) billionaire CEO Kelsy Warren propositioned Williams for over six months before going public with his overtures last year (see Energy Transfer Makes “Indecent Proposal” to Buy Williams for $48B). Williams resisted, but eventually they caved and agreed to the deal, although the deal price went down by $10 billion (see Williams Accepts ETE’s “Indecent Proposal” – Price Went Down $10B). Warren claims he got snookered and got cold feet, eventually bailing (see Dead as a Doornail: ETE Terminates Merger with Williams). The ink on the flurry of lawsuits filed hadn’t even dried and Enterprise Products Partners, another huge midstream company, began making overtures to Williams (see Here We Go Again: Enterprise Products Wants to Buy Williams). A month later Enterprise released a statement saying they’re finished with Williams, throwing in the towel, no longer interested (see Drama: Enterprise Bails on Williams Merger, No Longer Interested). What’s going on with all of this drama? At its core, Williams owns a “trophy asset,” what some call the “crown jewel.” That asset? The mighty, 10,500-mile Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co (Transco). Everyone wants Transco in part because of its geography in the Marcellus/Utica. So far Williams has resisted selling either Transco or the entire Williams company. But CEO Alan Armstrong–perhaps the guy most responsible for building the Transco–said this response to a question asking whether or not the company would ever sell the Transco: “I bring an extra pair of shoes to the office every day, just in case somebody offers me enough for the pair I’m wearing.” Meaning yes, if the price is right, he would sell it…

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