January 21, 2015 / 10:21 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Kinder stepping down as Kinder Morgan CEO, to be exec chair

(Adds quotes, details on quarterly results)

Jan 21 (Reuters) - Kinder Morgan Inc, the top U.S. pipeline company, on Wednesday said co-founder Rich Kinder will step down as chief executive this summer in a long-expected move.

He will be replaced by President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Kean, who has been groomed to take the top job. Kinder will become executive chairman when Kean takes over on June 1.

“I want also assure you I have never sold a share of my KMI stock and I don’t intend to do so in the future,” Kinder told investors on a conference call. “As we say in Texas, I plan to die with my boots on.”

Kinder, seen as an energy visionary turning the small unit he bought from failed trader Enron in 1997 to a juggernaut, said he was not going anywhere and would be involved in all major decisions involving the company he helped found.

The three-member office of the chairman will remain unchanged, occupied by Kinder, Kean and Chief Financial Officer Kim Dang.

Last year, Kinder presided over an unusual $44 billion deal that folded the company’s master limited partnerships (MLPs) under one publicly traded corporation, Kinder Morgan Inc. It now has a market capitalization of $89 billion.

With that deal that closed in November, the Houston company shed its tax-advantaged MLP status as part of an effort to simplify its structure and jumpstart growth prospects.

Kean joined Kinder Morgan in 2002 and has held a number of senior positions, including executive vice president of operations. He was named president in 2013.

In its fourth-quarter earnings report, Kinder said it still expects a 2015 dividend of $2.00 per share, up 16 percent from a year earlier. Kinder Morgan’s 2015 budget will be released ahead of an analyst meeting on Jan. 28.

Net income was $566 million compared to $704 million for the fourth quarter last year, as one-time items such as an impairment charge on the company’s oil and gas properties hurt results.

Shares of Kinder Morgan fell to $41 in after hours trading, down from a New York Stock Exchange close of $42. (Reporting by Anna Driver and Kristen Hays in Houston; Editing by Terry Wade and James Dalgleish)

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