FERC Tax Decision Forces Williams to Restructure – No More MLP

It appears a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) earlier this year that strips away the main advantages of the tax-advantaged master limited partnerships (MLP) structure is causing the MLP to go the way of the dodo bird. Because of the Trump tax cut, in March FERC reversed a previous policy and will no longer allowed MLP interstate oil and gas pipelines to include an income tax allowance in their cost-of-service rates (see FERC Takes Aim at Adjusting Pipe Rates in Light of Trump Tax Cut). Not long after, Tallgrass Energy, owner of the Rockies Express Pipeline, announced they would phase out their MLP structure (see Tallgrass Energy Eliminating MLP – First “Casualty” of Tax Cut?). As we predicted, it was the first of many to do so. Williams is now the latest midstream company to dump its MLP. Williams is essentially two companies–Williams (the corporation) and Williams Partners (the MLP). The MLP owns most of the assets. Williams Partners will be no more and instead, all of the assets will now live under the Williams (corporation) umbrella. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Once upon a time Williams had plans to merge the two together–but that all got mothballed when they ended up first fighting against, then trying to merge with Energy Transfer Equity (see Energy Transfer Makes “Indecent Proposal” to Buy Williams for $48B). FERC’s action in March provided the motivation for Williams to move forward with phasing out the Williams Partners MLP, which will cost Williams (the corporation) $10.5 billion to do…

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