Exclusive Wall Street Transcript Interview With The President And Director: TC PipeLines, LP (TCP) - Steven D. Becker
April 2, 2012 - The Wall Street Transcript has just published Oil & Gas: Master Limited Partnerships Report offering a timely review of the sector. This Special Report contains expert industry commentary through in-depth interviews with public company CEOs, Equity Analysts and Money Managers. Please find an excerpt below.
Steven D. Becker is President and Director of TC PipeLines GP, Inc., the general partner of TC PipeLines, LP, and Vice President of Business Development, Natural Gas Pipelines, for TransCanada Corporation, and is responsible for developing natural gas pipeline projects in Canada, the United States and Mexico. Mr. Becker is also responsible for identifying pipeline acquisition opportunities for TransCanada. He has more than 30 years of business experience. Mr. Becker joined TransCanada in 1990, and during this time, worked in finance, natural gas marketing, strategy and business development of natural gas and crude oil pipelines. He holds a bachelor of commerce degree, with distinction, from the University of Calgary and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario.
TWST: To introduce our readers to TC PipeLines, LP, would you start with a brief partnership history and an overview of its current operations?
Mr. Becker: TC PipeLines (TCP) is a master limited partnership that was formed by TransCanada Corporation back in 1999 that had interest in two natural gas pipeline assets. Today, our partnership has interests in six natural gas pipelines that are considered essential infrastructure within the North American energy market. Over our 12-year history, we've been able to grow our distribution from $1.80 in 1999 to $3.08 at its current level, which has been increased every year. Pipelines are regulated by the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, FERC, and we charge regulated tolls for shipping gas in our systems. The general partner of our partnership, TransCanada Corporation, owns approximately 33% of the units and operates the assets on our behalf. TransCanada is a large energy infrastructure company with three major areas of business: natural gas pipelines, crude oil pipelines and power generation.
TC PipeLines is part owner of some of the natural gas pipelines that TransCanada operates. TC PipeLines' financial position is illustrated in part by its strong credit rating. It has a BBB credit rating from Standard & Poor's and a Baa2 rating from Moody's. The partnership pays distributions quarterly, and with an annualized amount of $3.08 per unit, which at the current trading range is a yield of a little over 6.7%. So our unitholders have seen a strong yield and a growing distribution, with a pretty stable portfolio of assets that underpin this financial performance.One other thing that I might mention is we recently moved to the New York Stock Exchange, and we're now listed under the new ticker symbol TCP on New York as of December 12, 2011.
TWST: Would you talk a bit more about what supply basins the company is focused on and where those pipelines are?
Mr. Becker: The portfolio itself consists of interests in six different natural gas pipelines. Three of those are basically West Coast pipelines that are pretty critical infrastructure. The customers on those pipelines are generally local distribution companies and power generators that require pipeline capacity to serve their markets. The largest is a 25% interest in a pipeline that moves gas from Western Canada down into the northern California and Pacific Northwest markets, and two smaller pipelines in California that are regional pipelines that are fully contracted. So those are the three pipelines on the West Coast. We have three pipelines in the Midwest, and generally, the customers on those are large producers that are shipping their gas to Midwest regional markets such as Minneapolis, Chicago and Detroit.
A good portion of that is Canadian gas but also comprises Rocky Mountain gas that's being shipped to those particular markets. Many of our pipelines have been in operation for quite some time, in a lot of cases for 20 and 30 years, so they are core infrastructure that's required either to serve West Coast needs on a peak-day basis, and in the Midwest, they're very crucial infrastructure to keep people's homes heated and electric power generated in the winter. Overall, it's a very strong and a diversified portfolio by having six assets in it. It's not reliant on just one or two assets. The portfolio of shippers also has a very strong credit quality. So we think that, in summary, we've got a very well-positioned portfolio that's very strong and stable, and that's the business that we're in - long-term, stable assets that are very important in the overall energy infrastructure of Canada and the United States.
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