WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) —In order to complete its acquisition
of the Williams Companies Inc., Energy Transfer Equity L.P (“ETE”) must divest
Williams' interest in an interstate natural gas pipeline, the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC) has announced.
The FTC had charged that the proposed acquisition would
likely harm competition in Florida for “firm” – i.e., guaranteed – pipeline capacity
to deliver natural gas to points within the Florida peninsula. Natural gas is
used extensively for electric power generation in Florida.
The state, with no
local sources of natural gas production, must rely on pipeline-transported
supply. The FTC believes ETE’s acquisition of Williams would have
increased the price of transporting natural gas to utilities and other
Under the proposed consent agreement, competition will be
preserved because the new company created by the acquisition will divest
interest in the pipeline to an FTC-approved buyer within 180 days after the
finalization of the acquisition.
The FTC voted 3-0 to issue a complaint and accept the
proposed consent order, which will go before public comment.