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Fitch places DTE on negative watch after Haynesville deal announcement

Fitch Ratings placed DTE Energy Co. on rating watch negative after the company announced a deal to acquire a gathering system and gathering pipeline in the Haynesville Shale of Louisiana for $2.25 billion.

"While the Gas Storage and Pipelines (GSP) investment was part of the five-year program, Fitch believes this acquisition has a higher business risk than DTE's existing midstream assets," the rating agency said in an Oct. 18 report.

Under the transaction, DTE Energy subsidiary DTE Midstream would purchase the assets from Momentum Midstream LLC and Indigo Natural Resources LLC. The assets include an existing gathering system and a 150-mile gathering pipeline under construction.

Fitch said the increased business risk of the transaction is related to the credit risk of Indigo Natural Resources, the primary customer on the Haynesville system.

"The [Haynesville] assets have 10.0 and 13.5 year contracts which each have minimum volume commitments (MVCs), providing a floor to the cash flow. However, the counterparty is a pure-play Haynesville producer, with credit quality estimated to be below investment grade," Fitch said.

Fitch also affirmed the long-term issuer default ratings of DTE Electric Co. at A- and DTE Gas Co. at BBB+, both with stable outlooks.