if you look closely at your numbers, 38B is 24B. Both companies are to some extent dependent on the nat gas market, but generally profitable if neglecting one time expenses.
The mistake by ETE (perhaps now made moot by the ruling) was locking in a dollar price in a volatile commodity market. If merging by exchanging stock rather than paying cash, the deal might have sailed through without a fight, I expect. Companies should stand by their contracts, even if in hind-sight foolish. A break up fee was clearly identified in the contract which should have applied.