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Southern Union Spurns Williams Takeover Offer Of $44 A Share

By Ben Lefebvre Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES HOUSTON -(Dow Jones)- Southern Union Co. (SUG) reaffirmed Wednesday its decision to merge with Energy Transfer Equity LP (ETE), officially spurning the reiterated overture from a rival bidder. In a government filing, Southern officially declined the renewed offer from Williams Cos. (WMB), which on Tuesday affirmed its $44-a-share cash offer for the natural-gas pipeline company. Williams argued that Energy Transfer's cash-and-stock payment, valued at $5.7 billion when it was made on July 19, would bring less value to Southern shareholders because of volatile stock market movements. Energy Transfer and Williams each have hoped that combining their positions in prolific natural-gas production areas with Southern's access to markets will make them better able to transport natural gas through a system that has become increasingly congested as new drilling technology leads to a gas glut. Energy Transfer's initial mid-June offer of $4.2 billion for Southern sparked a bidding war with Williams that eventually added $1.5 billion to Southern's price tag. -By Ben Lefebvre, Dow Jones Newswires; 713-547-9201;

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