Sunoco Logistics Partners LP (NYSE: SXL) said it agreed to acquire Energy Transfer Partners LP (NYSE: ETP), in a unit-for-unit deal. The combined partnership is expected to be the second largest master limited partnership (MLP) as measured by enterprise value.
SXL is a master limited partnership that owns and operates a logistics business consisting of a geographically diverse portfolio of complementary pipeline, terminalling, and acquisition and marketing assets which are used to facilitate the purchase and sale of crude oil, refined products, and natural gas liquids, and refined products. SXL’s general partner is a consolidated subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (NYSE: ETP).
ETP is a master limited partnership that owns and operates one of the largest and most diversified portfolios of energy assets in the United States. ETP’s subsidiaries include Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Company LP (the successor of Southern Union Company) and Lone Star NGL LLC, which owns and operates natural gas liquids storage, fractionation and transportation assets. In total, ETP currently owns and operates more than 62,500 miles of natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines. ETP also owns the general partner, 100% of the incentive distribution rights, and approximately 67.1 million common units in SXL. ETP’s general partner is owned by Energy Transfer Equity LP.
Energy Transfer Equity LP (NYSE: ETE) is a master limited partnership that owns the general partner and 100% of the incentive distribution rights (IDRs) of ETP and Sunoco LP (NYSE: SUN). ETE also owns approximately 2.6 million ETP common units and approximately 81.0 million ETP Class H Units, which track 90% of the underlying economics of the general partner interest and IDRs of SXL. On a consolidated basis, ETE’s family of companies owns and operates approximately 71,000 miles of natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products, and crude oil pipelines.
The deal provides for ETP unitholders to receive 1.5 common units of SXL for each common unit of ETP they own. This equates to a 10% premium to the volume weighted average pricing of ETP’s common units for the last 30 trading days immediately prior to the announcement of the transaction.
The deal was approved by the boards of directors and conflicts committees of both partnerships and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017, subject to receipt of ETP unitholder approval and other customary closing conditions.
As SXL will be the acquiring entity, the existing incentive distribution rights provisions in the SXL partnership agreement will continue to be in effect, and Energy Transfer Equity LP (NYSE: ETE) will own the incentive distribution rights of SXL following the closing of the transaction. As part of this transaction, ETE has agreed to continue to provide all the incentive distribution right subsidies that are currently in effect with respect to both partnerships. The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to SXL’s distributable cash flow per common unit and is also expected to allow the combined partnership to be in position to achieve near-term distribution increases in the low double digits and a more than 1.0x distribution coverage ratio.
The deal is expected to provide significant benefits for SXL and ETP unitholders as the combined partnership will have increased scale and diversification across multiple producing basins and will have greater opportunities to more closely integrate SXL’s natural gas liquids business with ETP’s natural gas gathering, processing and transportation business. With this transaction, SXL and ETP expect to build upon their experience working together as partners in several joint ventures to pursue commercial opportunities and to achieve cost savings while enhancing the service capabilities for their customers. SXL and ETP expect that the transaction will allow for commercial synergies and costs savings in excess of $200 million annually by 2019.
The deal is also expected to strengthen the balance sheet of the combined organization by utilizing cash distribution savings to reduce debt and to fund a portion of the growth capital expenditure programs of the two partnerships. ETP and SXL have spent approximately $15 billion in organic growth capital over the past several years, and these expenditures, combined with the completion of other major capital projects currently in progress, are expected to continue to generate strong distributable cash flow growth.
Latham & Watkins LLP acted as legal counsel to ETP. Vinson & Elkins LLP acted as legal counsel to SXL. Barclays acted as financial advisor and Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP acted as legal counsel to ETP’s conflicts committee. Citi acted as financial advisor and Richards Layton & Finger, P.A. acted as legal counsel to SXL’s conflicts committee.