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Williams Selling Geismar Olefins Plant to Nova For $2.1B

Williams Partners LP is selling all of its interest in Williams Olefins LLC, which owns an 88.46% stake in the Geismar, LA, olefins plant and associated complex, to Nova Chemicals for $2.1 billion in cash.

After closing, Williams Partners subsidiaries will provide feedstock to Geismar via Williams Partners’ Bayou Ethane pipeline system in the U.S. Gulf Coast under long-term agreements with Nova.

“The Williams Olefins transaction and these announced new supply and transportation agreements fortify our focus on natural gas market fundamentals, reduce our commodity margin exposure and secure our fee-based Gulf Coast transportation business -- all consistent with Williams’ strategy to allocate capital to its core, natural gas-focused business,” said Alan Armstrong, CEO of Williams Partners’ general partner.

“When the Williams Olefins transaction closes, we expect to be at 97% fee-based revenues, driven largely by natural gas volumes.”

The company said last year it planned to sell the plant. The facility has had a checkered history, including an explosion and fire in 2013.

Geismar sale proceeds are to be used to pay off an $850 million term loan and to fund a portion of planned growth spending. Taxes are expected to be offset by net operating loss carryforwards. Williams Partners financial guidance will be updated at the company’s analyst day on May 11.

“We now look forward to helping Nova grow profitably here in the Gulf Coast by providing highly reliable feedstock supply via our recently expanded Bayou Ethane Pipeline network,” Armstrong said. “This transaction allows both companies to pursue their focused strategies in a mutually beneficial manner.”

Nova also is acquiring about 525 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to the plant as well as an  interest in the Williams Partners ethylene trading hub in Mont Belvieu, TX.

Geismar produces about 1.95 billion pounds of ethylene annually. With riverfront access, the adjacent land represents a significant opportunity for future growth, Nova said. “This transaction provides us with the opportunity to acquire an operating facility with immediate, positive cash flow, and with access to new customers and the benefits of an experienced workforce,” said Nova CEO Todd Karran.

“A key component of our growth strategy is to expand to the U.S. Gulf Coast and leverage next generation technology to better serve our customers in the Americas. The business allows us to diversify our geographic footprint benefiting from access to significant U.S. shale gas reserves and well established petrochemical and supply chain infrastructure.

“Coupled with our recent announcement regarding our plans to form a joint venture with Borealis and Total in Texas, we have taken steps to firmly establish our presence on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Nova said all Geismar employees as well as associated sales and marketing employees in Houston will be offered jobs.

The deal is expected to close this summer and is subject to customary conditions and regulatory approvals.

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