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Tallgrass Energy CEO leaves amid Blackstone takeover proposal

[BENGALURU] Pipeline operator Tallgrass Energy LP said on Monday Chief Executive Officer David Dehaemers resigned and would be replaced by operations head Bill Moler, a move that was backed by shareholder Blackstone Group Inc.

Mr Dehaemers had come under fire from retail investors last month over a non-binding take-private proposal by the investment firm, which included a provision for management to be paid nearly 30 per cent premium for shares in the general partner that owns Tallgrass.

In August, Blackstone Infrastructure Partners and affiliates that together own a 44.2 per cent stake in Tallgrass made an offer to buy the remaining shares at US$19.50 per unit.

Mr Dehaemers, however, defended the management-pay provision against criticism it reflected poor governance in a conference call and blamed selling shareholders for a 23per cent drop in stock price.

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Shares of Tallgrass Energy on Monday closed up 1.3 per cent at US$18.30, below Blackstone's offer for the remaining shares.

Blackstone said on Monday it was "incredibly pleased that he (Mr Moler) will lead Tallgrass and its team in its next phase of growth."

Mr Moler will receive a US$750,000 annual salary and be eligible for a US$1.5 million bonus for this year, under terms of an employment contract. He also is eligible for additional performance pay and other benefits based on the Blackstone take-private agreement.

Mr Moler, 53, was appointed as president and chief operating officer in March. Tallgrass said Mr Dehaemers, who became director and CEO in February 2015, will retire as a board member on Dec. 31.