Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P. (NYSE: KMP) was founded in February of 1997 when a group of investors led by Chairman and CEO Richard D. Kinder and former Vice Chairman William V. Morgan acquired the general partner of a small, publicly traded pipeline limited partnership (Enron Liquids Pipeline, L.P.).
Based in Houston, KMP began with a few assets, 175 employees and an enterprise value of $325 million. But Mr. Kinder and Mr. Morgan had a vision to build a different type of energy company by utilizing the master limited partnership (MLP) financial structure as a growth vehicle, something that had never been done before. It worked, as KMP has become one of the largest publicly traded pipeline limited partnerships in America. In the early years KMP grew mostly through acquisitions, purchasing such assets as refined petroleum pipelines, CO2 production fields and transportation pipelines, intrastate natural gas pipelines and bulk and liquids terminals. In recent years, most of KMP's growth has come through expansions and new build projects. During the past 15 years, KMP invested approximately $22 billion to grow the company through joint ventures, expansions and acquisitions.
In 1999, Mr. Kinder and his management team took over the reins of KN Energy, an integrated natural gas pipeline company based in Lakewood, Colo. KN's roots dated back to 1936 when, as a local distribution company, it provided natural gas service to small communities and rural areas in Kansas and Nebraska. One of the main assets that came from this deal was Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America (NGPL), which serves the high-demand Chicago market. Following the transaction, KN became Kinder Morgan, Inc. (NYSE: KMI), Kinder Morgan's second publicly traded company.
A third publicly traded Kinder Morgan company was formed in 2001 - Kinder Morgan Management, LLC (NYSE: KMR) - to facilitate institutional ownership of KMP equity. KMR is a limited liability company and its only significant assets are the partnership units it owns in KMP.
In 2006, Mr. Kinder spearheaded a management led buyout to take KMI private. That transaction closed in May 2007. On Feb. 11, 2011, KMI once again began trading on the New York Stock Exchange following the largest private equity-backed U.S. initial public offering in history. The IPO issued nearly 110 million shares and raised approximately $3.3 billion.
On Oct. 16, 2011, KMI announced it would acquire El Paso Corporation for approximately $38 billion. The transaction, which closed on May 24, 2012, made Kinder Morgan the largest midstream and the fourth largest energy company (based on combined enterprise value) in North America. As part of the transaction, Kinder Morgan added a fourth publicly traded entity to its family of companies – El Paso Pipeline Partners, L.P. (NYSE: EPB).