Kinder Morgan completes $21 billion mega-deal with El Paso

Kinder Morgan created the largest network of pipelines in the United States Thursday as it finalized a bumpy seven-month acquisition of El Paso Corporation.

The $21 billion mega-deal was one of the largest mergers launched in 2011, combining two Houston-based companies in a big bet on the nation’s booming natural gas business. With the deal’s close, Kinder Morgan operates the greatest capacity for moving and storing natural gas in the United States, by far.

“We are delighted to close the El Paso transaction and we are very excited about the natural gas footprint that we now have in the United States with the addition of approximately 44,000 miles of natural gas pipelines from El Paso,” said Kinder Morgan Chairman and CEO Richard D. Kinder in a written statement. “We are bullish on the future of natural gas and believe that it will be the fuel of choice in America for many years to come.”

The deal ran into trouble when El Paso shareholders alleged that  Goldman Sachs had a conflict of interest because it was advising El Paso on a plan to spin off its exploration and production arm when Kinder Morgan offered to buy the entire company. Goldman Sachs private equity funds own part of Kinder Morgan.

Ultimately, Kinder Morgan sold   El Paso’s exploration and production arm to a group of private equity firms led by Apollo Global Management for$7.15 billion. The proceeds offset debt incurred in Kinder Morgan’s purchase of El Paso.