Hess (HES) said Monday it will look to sell its U.S. terminal network and complete its exit from the refining business by closing its Port Reading, N.J., refinery.
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The company’s terminal network, located along the East Coast, has 19 terminals with a storage capacity of 28 million barrels. The network served as the primary outlet for Hess’ share of production from its HOVENSA joint venture refinery. However, the closure of the HOVENSA refinery last year and Hess’ ability to access refined products elsewhere made the terminal system expendable, the company explained.
Hess added that in addition to proceeds from the divestiture, the transaction should release approximately $1 billion of working capital that will be used to fund the company’s future growth opportunities.
The Port Reading refinery, which will be shut down by the end of February, primarily manufactures gasoline and components used for blending heating oil. According to Hess, the refinery incurred losses in two of the past three years, and its financial outlook had been expected to be challenged by environmental regulations for low sulfur heating oil and the weak forecast for gasoline refining margins.
“By closing the Port Reading refinery and selling our terminal network, Hess will complete its transformation from an integrated oil and gas company to one that is predominantly an exploration and production company and be able to redeploy substantial additional capital to fund its future growth opportunities,” John Hess, chairman and CEO of Hess, said in a statement.
Hess said it has retained Goldman Sachs (GS) as its financial advisor for the terminal network sale.
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The company also announced that Elliott Associates notified Hess last Friday that it intends to file a Hart-Scott-Rodino regulatory report to seek clearance to acquire additional Hess shares, valued at more than $800 million. A law firm representing Elliott Associates also told Hess that its client may nominate candidates for election to Hess’ board.
“Prior to the letters we received this past Friday, Elliott had not contacted us about their intentions, nor have we had any discussions with them,” Hess said. “As we do with all shareholders who engage with us, if Elliott wishes to do so, we will meet to hear their ideas.
“We have transformed Hess into a predominantly exploration and production company, which is part of a multi-year strategy to grow shareholder value. This strategy is focused on developing lower risk, higher return assets such as those related to our leadership position in the Bakken oil shale of North Dakota.”
Shares of Hess soared $3.60, or 6.11%, to $58.90 a share in pre-market trading.