May 10, 2017 / 11:47 PM / 4 months ago

Williams Cos CEO says asset sales done for now after year of dealmaking

* Expects no more buying, selling after Louisiana deal - CEO

* Offloaded Canadian, Delaware basin assets since September

* Energy Transfer takeover collapsed last June

* Seeking ways around NY permit issue for Constitution pipe

By David French and Scott DiSavino

NEW YORK, May 10 (Reuters) - Williams Companies Inc does not expect further acquisitions or asset sales in the near term after divesting its olefins plant in Louisiana to focus on its natural gas business, its chief executive told Reuters on Wednesday.

Dealmaking has dominated the pipeline operator’s recent past, most notably the collapse of a more-than-$20 billion takeover by Energy Transfer Equity LP in June 2016 which resulted in a failed attempt by some of the board to oust Chief Executive Alan Armstrong.

Williams, which agreed the $2.1 billion plant sale to Nova Chemicals last month, also completed offloading its Canadian business in September for C$1.38 billion ($1.01 billion) and a swap deal in March with multiple parties relating to assets in the Marcellus shale formation and the Delaware Basin.

“From a strategic standpoint, I would tell you that we’ve probably accomplished what we need to,” Armstrong said in an interview, noting the sales had helped reduce its debt to “a more comfortable level.”

From the perspective of the company doing a deal, he added: “It’s hard for us to imagine anything that is better in terms of value creation than what we have before us right now, and we’re going to stay focused on that.”

Armstrong believed there would be significant growth in the U.S. natural gas sector going forward because of demand for the energy source from industrial and power-generating companies, despite opposition from politicians and environmentalists to oil and gas pipelines in some areas of the country.

Construction of its Constitution pipeline from Pennsylvania to New York, a joint venture with parties including Cabot Oil & Gas, has been held up by legal challenges and a failure to secure a necessary water permit from New York state authorities for over a year.

Armstrong also said Williams was exploring a number of angles to overcome the documentation issue, including getting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide certification that could bypass the need to secure the outstanding state-level permit.

A timetable for when the pipeline would be operational was unclear because of the delays, he added. ($1 = 1.3653 Canadian dollars) (Editing by G Crosse)

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