Kinder Morgan to consolidate pipeline empire

Billionaire Richard Kinder is consolidating his expansive oil and gas pipeline empire into one company in a $44 billion deal aimed at strengthening it amid the growing U.S. shale boom.

The move steers the company away from the industry trend popularized by Kinder, which are based on tax-oriented partnerships, Bloomberg reports.

With the new simplified structure, Kinder will lower borrowing costs and unify the company under one stock.

The strategy will make it easier for Kinder Morgan Inc. "to pursue expansion and acquisitions in a target-rich environment," the company said in a statement.

Kinder's consolidation likely signals a new wave of dealmaking for the pipeline industry, which has surged in the last five years with the shale boom. Growing shale operations have increased the demand for pipes in new areas to ship oil and gas to markets, Bloomberg reports.