Diversified natural gas player Southern Union (a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Equity) is looking to form a more perfect union of natural gas transportation, storage, gathering, processing, and distribution assets. Its major utilities, Missouri Gas Energy and New England Gas, distribute natural gas to more than 550,000 customers. Southern Union has gas storage facilities and more than 15,000 miles of interstate natural gas pipeline across the US (primarily through Panhandle Energy and its 50% ownership of Florida Gas). It also operates 5,500 miles of gathering pipelines and one of North America's largest liquefied natural gas import terminals. In 2012 the company was acquired by Energy Transfer Equity.
Southern Union has natural gas transportation, storage, gathering, processing, and distribution operations.
It has gas distribution utilities in Massachusetts and Missouri, gas fields in West Texas, and pipeline assets in the Midwest, the South, and the Southeast.
In 2011 the company saw its revenues rise by 7% despite low gas commodity prices (and a weaker utility performance) thanks to higher natural gas liquid (NGL) prices and the expansion of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal infrastructure. Net income grew by about 14% that year as higher revenues outpaced increases in operating expenses, coupled with the fact that the company did not have to carry a loss from discontinued operations as it did in 2010.
To create one of the largest natural gas infrastructure companies in the US, Energy Transfer Equity' made a $7.9 billion takeover offer (including Southern Union's debt of $3.7 billion) in June 2011. This offer was countered by a bid to buy the company by The Williams Companies. Energy Transfer Equity upped its total bid to $9.4 billion. Undeterred, The William Companies made a counter offer, but the Southern management agreed to the Energy Transfer Equity bid.
Prior to this deal, Southern Union's strategy had been to seek growth opportunities across the whole spectrum of its natural gas activities through internal initiatives and complementary acquisitions, looking to its balance its diverse operations to weather any downturn in a particular segment. However, the global recession and lingering low gas prices resulted in the company running up major debts, and had it looking for a major capital infusion.