Berkshire’s Scuttled Deal for Questar Derided by U.S. Antitrust Agency

U.S. antitrust officials said Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s scrapped deal to buy pipeline assets from Dominion Energy Inc. would have threatened competition and never should have been pursued by the companies.

The Federal Trade Commission said in a statement Tuesday, a day after the companies said they were abandoning the deal, that it was “disappointing” officials had to expend resources investigating the acquisition given that it challenged the same transaction in 1995.

“Given our prior action, and the even closer competition that developed between the pipelines since then, this is representative of the type of transaction that should not make it out of the boardroom,” said Holly Vedova, the acting head of the FTC’s Competition Bureau.

Berkshire’s energy unit had agreed to purchase Questar Pipelines from Dominion. Questar was among the natural gas assets Dominion agreed to sell to Berkshire Hathaway Energy a year ago for $4 billion. The rest of that deal was completed in November, representing about 80% of the original transaction value.

The companies blamed “ongoing uncertainty” about obtaining FTC approval.

The FTC said the deal would have eliminated close competition between Berkshire’s Kern River Pipeline and Questar. They are the only two pipelines that bring natural gas from the Rocky Mountain production basins to serve central Utah.

Representatives for Berkshire Hathaway Energy and its parent company didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment about the FTC statement.

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