UPDATE 3-Girling to take helm at TransCanada

* Russ Girling to take over as CEO in July

* Kvisle retiring after 11 years with TransCanada

* Shares up C$0.04 at C$37.64
(Adds comment from Girling, updates stock prices)

By Jeffrey Jones

CALGARY, Alberta, April 15 (BestGrowthStock) – Russ Girling, a
veteran of TransCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO: ) decade-plus overhaul,
will take over as chief executive after current CEO Hal Kvisle
retires at the start of July, the country’s largest pipeline
operator said on Thursday.

Girling, 47, has held several finance and operating posts
since joining TransCanada in 1994, and now as chief operating
officer is overseeing its expansion into a major transporter of
Canadian oil sands crude.

He was seen as the logical choice to succeed Kvisle, who is
retiring after 11 years with the C$26 billion ($26 billion)
pipeline and power generation company, the last nine as CEO.

Girling and Kvisle, 57, worked together on such major
initiatives as expanding the company’s portfolio of U.S. gas
pipelines and power generating assets as gas flows on its
best-known holding — the Canadian mainline — wane.

The rebuilding has come after a major asset sale and debt
reduction run at the start of the decade as TransCanada
struggled to digest its C$7.7 billion takeover of Nova Corp, at
the time Canada’s largest energy deal.

“They’ve been together for a long time in that capacity, so
I’m sure they see things the same way,” said Chad Friess,
analyst with UBS Canada Securities.

TransCanada shares rose 4 Canadian cents to C$37.64 on the
Toronto Stock Exchange, showing investors were neither
surprised nor displeased, Friess said.

Investors can expect little divergence from the strategy
Girling helped develop, he said in an interview.

“We’ve got a fairly big job ahead of us — we’ve got our
major, C$22 billion capital program to complete on time, on
budget, and that’s still the primary focus,” he said. “Deriving
the cash flow, earnings and dividend growth that comes with
that is job one.”

Major moves now include expanding its role in moving
Canadian crude to the United States and attracting shippers to
its Alaska gas pipeline with partner Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: ), a
long-delayed proposal that could cost as much as $41 billion.

That project, and the proposed C$16.2 billion Mackenzie
pipeline to Alberta from the Northwest Territories, would help
extend the life of TransCanada’s gas mainline as Western
Canada’s conventional gas production dwindles.

FOCUSED STRATEGY

An engineer by trade, Kvisle became CEO in 2001. He had
already been charting a strategy to hone the focus on pipelines
and power generation in Canada and the northern United States.

As finance chief at the time, Girling was responsible for a
C$4 billion debt reduction that went along with that.

The company had spent the previous two years selling C$3.5
billion of assets following the Nova takeover. It had also cut
its prized dividend.

The tough moves allowed TransCanada to take advantage of
competitors’ financial troubles. It snapped up assets they put
on the block, including the GTN gas pipeline system to the U.S.
Pacific Northwest and California, and the ANR pipeline system
in the U.S. Midwest.

Girling played major roles on those deals as well as the
company’s acquisitions of numerous electricity generation
businesses, most notably a stake in the Bruce Power nuclear
facility in Ontario, one of the world’s largest.

After becoming president in 2006, he oversaw the move into
oil transport as the country’s oil sands output climbed.

Last month, he told the Reuters Canadian Oil Sands Summit
that he expects to open the $5.2 billion Keystone oil pipeline
to the U.S. Midwest from Alberta by the end of June.

The line, fashioned partly from pipe previously used for
gas, will initially ship 435,000 barrels a day. An extension
will take the crude to Cushing, Oklahoma.

TransCanada is also planning the Keystone XL line, which
will expand the system to 1.1 million bpd, including 500,000
bpd to the cluster of U.S. refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

Money

($1=$1 Canadian)
(Editing by Rob Wilson)

UPDATE 3-Girling to take helm at TransCanada