Southern Union to discuss deal with energy company Williams

HOUSTON ― Southern Union Co. said it will enter into negotiations with integrated energy company Williams Cos. regarding its latest $5.5 billion offer to buy the pipeline operator.

Williams, which is engaged in a battle with Energy Transfer Equity LP to buy Southern Union, on Thursday raised its offer by nearly 13 percent.

Southern Union said in regulatory filing on Friday it still recommends the Energy Transfer bid of about $5 billion, and its decision to provide non-public information to Williams does not mean that the revised Williams proposal was superior.

Southern Union owns and operates more than 20,000 miles of pipelines in the Southeast, Midwest and Great Lakes regions as well as Texas and New Mexico. The company also owns natural gas distribution companies that serve more than half a million end-users in Missouri and Massachusetts.

With global commodity majors such as BHP Billiton entering the shale fields through the acquisition of Petrohawk Energy , the battle for Southern Union could only escalate.