With crude oil prices diving below $30 a barrel again Monday morning, announcing a change in top management at an already-weakened master limited partnership (MLP) is having a huge negative impact on its stock price. Energy Transfer Equity L.P. (NYSE: ETE) shares traded down nearly 30% at one point Monday morning and traded down about 25% after Friday’s announcement that the company was changing chief financial officers (CFOs) in mid-acquisition. Energy Transfer Equity has an outstanding offer valued at around $38 billion for Williams Companies Inc. (NYSE: WMB).
On Friday, Energy Transfer Equity said it was replacing CFO Jamie Welch with Thomas E. Long, who is currently the CFO of Energy Transfer Partners LLC, owner of the general partner of Energy Transfer Partners L.P. (NYSE: ETP). Long will be responsible for all financial aspects of the entire family of partnerships under Energy Transfer Equity, including Energy Transfer Partners, Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE: SXL) and Sunoco L.P. (NYSE: SUN). Energy Transfer Equity owns 100% of Energy Transfer Partners LLC.
Bright and early Monday morning, Energy Transfer Equity released a statement in which the company said that it is in discussions with Welch regarding a potential consulting arrangement related “primarily to the continued development of the Partnership’s LNG export project” although the company was quick to add that “no agreements have been reached.”
The second thing of note is that Monday’s announcement also included a variation on the standard statement that typically accompanies a CFO’s departure:
In addition, in response to inquiries from various parties, the Partnership affirms that the replacement of Mr. Welch as Chief Financial Officer of the Partnership was not based on any disagreement with respect to any accounting or financial matter involving the Partnership or any of its affiliates.
The statement was not included in Friday’s announcement of Welch’s departure.
Energy Transfer Equity traded down about 26% in morning trading, at $5.16, after posting a new 52-week low of $4.44 earlier in the session. The stock’s 52-week high is $35.44.