Judge: ETE Partnership Can Terminate Williams Merger
DOVER, Delaware - A Delaware judge ruled Friday afternoon that Energy Transfer Equity can terminate its proposed merger with Williams Companies.
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by ETE to stop the merger. Williams sued ETE to force it to complete the merger.
The deadline for the merger is June 28, 2016.
The announcement of the merger in September 2015 upset Tulsa leaders, especially after news broke that ETE planned to move Williams to Dallas once the deal was complete.
The Williams Companies stockholders' special meeting set for Monday, which was called to vote on the merger, is still scheduled to take place.
The leaders of the Tulsa Chamber believe the ruling means the merger is over. They're celebrating as if it is - even though the company that started the merger hasn't actually pulled out.
"The Tulsa regional chamber and its Board of Directors are extremely pleased with the judge's ruling today," said Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa regional chamber. "We anticipate this ruling will effectively end this merger attempt. We would still encourage shareholders to vote no on Monday. As it does not appear this merger will happen, we look forward to working with the Williams board, President and CEO Alan Armstrong, his management team, and the Williams employees to support the company and its future well-being."
Williams has 100 years of history, and even after layoffs, the oil pipeline giant has about 900 employees in Tulsa.
In the merger, Tulsa would have lost the prestige of a company headquarters and the economic power of all those workers - many earning wages far above average.
"The buzz that this city has been experiencing for the past many years was in jeopardy," Tulsa mayor Dewey Bartlett said. "That's no longer the case."
Though the ruling means that ETE can pull out of the merger, Williams still plans to have a shareholders meeting Monday to vote on it.
The company is at least publicly urging shareholders to vote for it.
"I'm not sure how important Monday's vote really is because this ruling today gives Kelsey Warren and Energy Transfer Equity the ability to not close this deal," Neal said.
Williams shareholders meet Monday morning and the deadline for the merger to be finished is Tuesday.
Read the judge's ruling below:
Williams Says It's "Committed To Closing"