Hess Retail Divestiture Hints

Executive: "Everything moving along according to schedule" for late 2013, early 2014 action

Greg Lindenberg, Editor, CSP


NEW YORK -- In reporting estimated financial results for the third quarter and nine months of 2013, Hess Corp. executives also dropped a few scant tidbits updating the effort to divest its retail network.

Hess said in February that it would divest its retail network as part of a broad restructuring of its business, but did not specify whether it would do so by selling them or possibly by spinning them out into a separate business. Hess has approximately 1,360 gas stations, many with convenience stores, spread among several East Coast states.

In mid-June, it agreed to acquire the 56% interest in Winston-Salem, N.C.-based c-store and travel plaza operator WilcoHess LLC it did not already hold from A.T. Williams Oil Co.

"We believe that the agreement will enable Hess to continue its divestiture of the downstream business in a way that maximizes value for shareholders," a Hess spokesperson told CSP Daily News at the time. It ties up the Hess retail offering in a neater package, he said.

In July, it enlisted Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to sell its gas station network as the oil company moves to reshape itself into a pure exploration-and-production (E&P) company.

During the 2013 third quarter, the corporation advanced the divestiture process for its retail and trading businesses, as well as upstream, it reported.

During the company's third-quarter earnings conference call, chief financial officer, principal accounting officer and senior vice president John P. Reilly responded to an analyst's query about progress on the retail divestiture.

"We're doing a parallel process. We're going to go down the process of looking at a potential public market option … as well as go through an M&A process," he said. "So we're going to go through both of that, and we're going to maximize value to shareholders. As far as the private letter ruling and what we're doing for filing with the [U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC)], we're kind of on track. Everything is moving along according to schedule, and we anticipate getting that and get some further information out later this quarter and into early 2014."

Hess reported net income of $420 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2013, compared to $557 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2012.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2013, Hess reported net income of $3.127 billion for the period ended Sept. 30, 2013, compared to $1.651 billion for the period ended Sept. 30, 2012.

The downstream businesses, comprised of retail, energy marketing, refining and energy trading, reported income of $54 million in the third quarter of 2013, compared with $53 million in the same period in 2012.

New York City-based Hess is a leading global independent energy company engaged in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas.