Justia Energy, Oil & Gas Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Mergers & Acquisitions
Williams Companies, Inc. v. Energy Transfer Equity, L.P.
This appeal arose from a merger agreement under which two companies involved in the gas pipeline business, Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. (“ETE”), agreed to acquire the assets of The Williams Companies, Inc., (“Williams”). The Merger Agreement signed by Williams and ETE contemplated two steps: (1) Williams would merge into a new entity, Energy Transfer Corp LP (“ETC”); and (2) the transfer of Williams’ assets to ETE in exchange for Class E partnership units “would” be a tax-free exchange of a partnership interest for assets under Section 721(a) of the Internal Revenue Code. After the parties entered into the Agreement, the energy market suffered a severe decline which caused a significant loss in the value of assets of the type held by Williams and ETE. This caused the transaction to become financially undesirable to ETE. This issue ultimately led to ETE’s tax counsel, Latham & Watkins, LLP (Latham) being unwilling to issue the 721 opinion. Since the 721 opinion was a condition of the transaction, ETE indicated that it would not proceed with the merger. Williams then sought to enjoin ETE from terminating the Merger Agreement. The Court of Chancery rejected Williams’ arguments. After review, the Supreme Court found the Court of Chancery adopted an unduly narrow view of the obligations imposed by the covenants in the Agreement. The Supreme Court agreed with Williams that if a proper analysis of ETE’s covenants led to a conclusion that ETE breached those covenants, the burden would have shifted to ETE to prove that its breaches did not materially contribute to the failure of the closing condition. Since the facts as found by the Court of Chancery were that ETE’s lack of conduct did not contribute to Latham’s decision not to issue the 721 opinion, the Supreme Court was satisfied that when the burden of proving that ETE’s alleged breach of covenants is properly placed on it, ETE did meet its burden of proving that any alleged breach of covenant did not materially contribute to the failure of the Latham condition. The Court also agrees with the Court of Chancery’s finding that ETE was not estopped from terminating the Agreement. Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Chancery was affirmed. View "Williams Companies, Inc. v. Energy Transfer Equity, L.P." on Justia Law
Houlton Water Co. v. Public Utilities Commission
Bangor Hydro-Electric (BHE) and Maine Public Service Company (MPS) were regulated utilities engaged in the transmission and distribution of electric it. The companies merged to become Emera Maine during the pendency of this proceeding. BHE and MPS filed a petition for reorganization, under which Emera Maine’s parent company would increase its ownership interest in Algonquin Power & Utilities Corporation (APUC), a publicly-traded company that is in the electricity generation business. The petition was subject to approval by the Maine Public Utilities Commission because of the relationship that would result between Emera Maine, as a transmission and distribution entity, and APUC, a generator. The Commission approved the petition. On appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court vacated the Commission’s order approving the petition, holding that the Commission misconstrued the governing statute in the Electric Industry Restructuring Act. On remand, the Commission once again approved the petition. On the second appeal, the Supreme Judicial Court vacated the Commission’s order, holding that the Commission acted outside of its authority when it imposed conditions that would regulate APUC beyond what the Restructuring Act allows. Remanded with instructions to deny the petition. View "Houlton Water Co. v. Public Utilities Commission" on Justia Law
Roseton Ol, LLC, et al. v. Dynegy Holdings Inc.
This case arose out of a sale-leaseback transaction that occurred in 2001. On July 10, 2011, the seller-lessees' parent company announced plans for a proposed transaction whereby it would seek a new credit facility and undergo an internal reorganization. As part of a subsequent reorganization, substantially all of its profitable power generating facilities would be transferred from existing subsidiaries to new "bankruptcy remote" subsidiaries, except for two financially weakened power plants. On July, 22, 2011, plaintiffs brought this action seeking to temporarily restrain the closing of the proposed transaction on the grounds that it violated the successor obligor provisions of the guaranties and would constitute a fraudulent transfer. The court found it more appropriate to analyze plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order under the heightened standard for a preliminary injunction. Having considered the record, the court held that plaintiffs have failed to show either a probability of success on the merits of their breach of contract and fraudulent transfer claims or the existence of imminent irreparable harm if the transaction was not enjoined. Therefore, the court denied plaintiffs' application for injunctive relief. View "Roseton Ol, LLC, et al. v. Dynegy Holdings Inc." on Justia Law