Texas energy company to end merger with pipeline business

OKLAHOMA CITY – A Dallas-based energy company’s decision Wednesday to terminate a merger with a Tulsa-based pipeline company has relieved city officials who worried the merger would lead to an exodus of high-paying jobs from Oklahoma.

Energy Transfer Equity announced Wednesday in a filing it intends to terminate a merger agreement with Williams Cos., citing a Delaware Court of Chancery’s ruling last week that it could back out of the deal if its attorneys could not deliver a required tax opinion.

Williams has appealed the ruling to the Delaware Supreme Court, and said in a statement it believes Energy Transfer Equity breached the merger agreement by failing to “use necessary efforts” to close the deal, including the delivery of the tax opinion.

“Williams recognizes the practical fact that ETE has refused to close the merger,” the Tulsa company’s statement reads. “Williams has concluded that it is in the best interests of its stockholders to seek, among other remedies, monetary damages from ETE for its breaches.”

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said he was relieved to hear of the Dallas company’s plans to end the deal, calling it “a huge win” for Oklahoma.

“Williams has been part of Tulsa for over a century, and we look forward to the next 100 years,” Barlett said. “Going forward, Tulsa is here to support Williams, its employees, its board of directors, and its shareholders as the company retains its independence and navigates a tough energy market.”

Williams shareholders had voted Monday to complete the merger deal, which was agreed to in September with a completion period that was set to end Tuesday.

Williams previously claimed Energy Transfer Equity was using the tax opinion as a ruse to miss a deadline and was deliberately trying to scrap the agreement. The Delaware judge said that even though it would be in the best interest of the Texas company for the agreement to end, it did not prove that ETE’s leadership failed to do everything in its power to obtain the tax opinion from attorneys.