Williams Hits a Gusher with Clever Financial Engineering

Late last year, the natural-gas sector got a jolt from Exxon's (XOM) $41 purchase of XTO (XTO). Since then, we've seen other big-ticket deals, including Total SA's (TOT) $2.25 billion joint venture for Chesapeake Energy's (CHK) Barnett properties. This week, the trend continued with Williams Cos. (WMB), which is undergoing a $12 billion restructuring of its various holdings. While the deal is fairly complicated, it will nonetheless result in a much simpler structure for investors to value the assets.