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UPDATE 1-ETE, Williams give SEC more time to review their deal

Tue 3rd May, 2016 1:44pm
(Adds background) 
    May 3 (Reuters) - Energy Transfer Equity LP  ETE.N  and 
Williams Companies Inc  WMB.N  agreed on Tuesday to change an 
administrative requirement for their $20 billion-deal to give 
U.S. regulators additional time to complete their review of the 
tie-up. 
    The new timeline may give Energy Transfer time to 
renegotiate terms of the deal ahead of June 28 - the deadline 
for the deal to close, people familiar with the matter told 
Reuters on Monday.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N17Z20Y 
    The companies said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that 
the Securities and Exchange Commission had requested additional 
information about the deal to be included in the proxy 
statement, which the companies may not mail to shareholders 
before the SEC completes its review.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nEOL7mMzMT 
    Williams shareholders need to vote on the transaction, and 
the SEC must sign off on the proxy statement before it is sent 
out to shareholders and a date is set for the vote. 
    The companies agreed to shorten the period between when the 
proxy and form of election are sent and when the deal can close. 
The form of election allows Williams shareholders to choose 
whether they want cash or stock for their shares. 
    Energy Transfer chief executive Kelcy Warren, a Dallas 
billionaire, set his sights on Williams last year to transform 
his empire into one of the biggest pipeline networks in the 
world. However, a prolonged drop in oil and gas prices has made 
the deal less economically attractive. 
    Williams is suing ETE in Delaware to stop a controversial 
offering of preferred shares to its top shareholders. It has 
also sued Energy Transfer's Warren in Texas over the same 
offering.  
    Williams has alleged that ETE is looking into ways to walk 
away from the tie-up even though the terms of the deal would not 
allow that.  
    The latest obstacle to the deal arose last month, when 
Energy Transfer said its lawyers may not be able to deliver a 
tax opinion needed to close the deal. Williams disagrees with 
the position Energy Transfer's lawyers have taken on the tax 
issue. 
 
 (Reporting by Michael Erman in New York and Swetha Gopinath in 
Bengaluru; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh and Chizu Nomiyama) 
 ((swetha.gopinath@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223 
8780, outside U.S. +91 80 6749 1130; Reuters Messaging: 
swetha.gopinath.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) 
 
Keywords: WILLIAMS M&A/ENERGYTRANSFER
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