Exclusive: Morgan Stanley to sell natural gas business scrutinized by Fed

Mon Mar 30, 2015 11:16am EDT
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By Lauren Tara LaCapra

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Morgan Stanley has agreed to sell a compressed natural gas business that came under regulatory scrutiny shortly after its launch last year, according to a document obtained by Reuters and three people familiar with the matter.

The bank will transfer the gas business, Wentworth, to a newly formed company called Pentagon Energy LLC. Two Morgan Stanley managers who were involved with Wentworth, Alberto Chiesara and Ryan Comerford, are leaving to join the new company as principals, according to those sources.

Simon Greenshields, who had been co-head of Morgan Stanley's commodities business until January and was earlier said to be seeking to leave the bank through a Wentworth sale, is not joining Pentagon Energy.

The sources did not disclose any financial terms of the deal. Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the matter.

Pentagon's plan is to take advantage of low natural gas prices in North America by exporting the commodity via container ships to under-served markets in the Caribbean and Central America.

The countries Pentagon is targeting, such as the Dominican Republic, lack access to natural gas and use more expensive oil instead for their power plants.

Yet the business may now be less lucrative than at the time of its launch, when crude oil traded at four to five times the cost of natural gas when measured in comparable thermal units. Today, following a long slide, crude trades at around three times the cost of U.S. gas, according to Reuters data.

Reuters first revealed Morgan Stanley's plan last August after Wentworth filed an application with the U.S. Department of Energy to build, own and operate compression and container loading facility in Texas.   Continued...

The corporate logo of financial firm Morgan Stanley is pictured on the company's world headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, REUTERS/Mike Segar