TransCanada sells stake in Bison, hints at accelerating drop downs

Wed Oct 1, 2014 8:55am EDT
 
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TORONTO Oct 1 (Reuters) - Canadian pipeline operator TransCanada Corp sold its 30 percent interest in Bison Pipeline LLC to its master limited partnership on Wednesday, and hinted it may speed up such drop-down transactions in the months ahead.

Calgary-based TransCanada is under pressure from activist investors to transfer ownership of its U.S. natural gas pipeline assets into its MLP, TC PipeLines LP. The activists believe this would help boost the company's stock price.

TransCanada said it is selling its interest in Bison to TC Pipelines for $215 million in cash. Bison is a 487-kilometre (303-mile) long natural gas pipeline connecting Rocky Mountain gas supply to downstream markets.

Last month, TransCanada said it was committed to selling the remainder of its U.S. natural gas pipeline assets to the MLP over the coming years, but that its current structure was critical to its ability to deliver on its massive capital program.

TransCanada's Chief Executive Russ Girling said on Wednesday however that the company intends "to drop down the remainder of those assets on a more sizeable, frequent basis over the coming quarters and years."

The company did not state whether it was pressure from the activist investors that precipitated the slight change in tone, but it did say that it remained wholly-committed to enhancing shareholder value via the continuous evaluation of its approach to capital allocation. (Reporting by Euan Rocha and Alden Bentley)