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TC Energy selling Portland Natural Gas Transmission System for US$1.14 billion

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TC Energy Corp.'s plan to shore up its balance sheet with $3 billion or more in asset sales took a step forward Monday after a deal to sell a U.S. pipeline.

The Calgary-based company and its partner said they are selling the Portland Natural Gas Transmission System for US$1.14 billion to BlackRock, through a fund managed by its diversified infrastructure business, and investment funds managed by Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners.

The purchase price includes the assumption of US$250 million in debt.

The company is “steadfast”on achieving its divestment goals in 2024, chief executive Francois Poirier said last month on a conference call to discuss its fourth-quarter earnings. He said TC Energy was open to selling more than the previously targeted $3 billion figure.

The sale of Portland, a non-core asset, is a “unique opportunity to support our capital rotation and deleveraging priorities while continuing to meet the needs of the communities PNGTS serves,” Poirier said in a statement on Monday.

TC Energy holds a 61.7 per cent stake in PNGTS, while its partner, a subsidiary of Energir LP, owns 38.3 per cent.

The company said the sale will generate pre-tax cash proceeds of about $740 million or US$545 million net to TC Energy.

PNGTS is a 475-kilometre natural gas pipeline system that serves the upper New England and Atlantic Canada markets. It receives natural gas from the Trans Quebec and Maritimes Pipeline via the Canadian Mainline.

The PNGTS sale is expected to close in mid-2024, subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

TC Energy sold a 40 per cent stake in its Columbia Gas and Columbia Gulf systems to New York-based Global Infrastructure Partners last year for $5.3billion.

TC Energy has been seeking to sell assets in order to pay off debt. The company has been under significant scrutiny from investors and credit rating agencies for its heavy debt load as well as for the spiralling costs of Coastal GasLink, the 670-km pipeline project it completed last fall.

Coastal GasLink - which will transport natural gas from Western Canada to the Shell-led LNG Canada processing and export facility currently being built in Kitimat, B.C. - was one of the largest energy infrastructure projects in recent Canadian history and its successful completion is a significant accomplishment for TC Energy.

But the project has also put pressure on the company's balance sheet. Throughout the course of construction, the project's budget ballooned from an initial $6.2 billion to $11.2 billion and then increased again to $14.5 billion.

TC Energy continues to try to pursue potential recoveries from contractors to offset a portion of the rising costs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2024. Top Stories


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