FTC Clears El Paso-Sonat Deal
By the time you read this, El Paso Energy will be putting the
finishing touches on its merger with Sonat Inc., creating the
largest natural gas pipeline in North America in terms of miles and
Late Friday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cleared the
merger of the two companies, which was the last stumbling block to
the transaction, when it signed a consent agreement that orders the
merged company to divest Sea Robin Pipeline Co., East Tennessee
Natural Gas Co. and its ownership interest in Destin Pipeline Co.
"We're hoping to close the deal Monday [today], and then
integrate the two companies immediately thereafter," said Norma
Dunn, El Paso senior vice president over public relations. "We're
pretty excited.....we've been waiting for this for sometime," she
told NGI. El Paso Energy first announced its intent to acquire
Sonat last March.
El Paso spokeswoman Paula Delaney said there were no surprises
for the company in the FTC consent agreement. "It was exactly what
we had agreed on previously." A summary of the consent agreement
will be published in the Federal Register, and will be subject to a
30-day comment period.
As for the companies to be sold, Dunn said "we are in
discussions with a number of companies, the identities of which
can't be disclosed. We certainly are seeing a lot of interest." The
consent order requires the merged company to divest itself of these
assets within six months or a trustee will be appointed to carry
out the sales. The order also requires the El Paso-controlled
Viosca Knoll Gathering Co. to provide open access, and to allow
other pipelines to interconnect with it. Viosca operates off the
coast of eastern Louisiana.
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