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 customers.

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.

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