Exxon Mobil eyes potential mega-deal with shale driller Pioneer

Oil-and-gas giant has held informal, early stage talks to buy the $49 billion-market cap Pioneer Natural Resources

Exxon Mobil Corp. has held preliminary talks with Pioneer Natural Resources Co. about a possible acquisition of the U.S. fracking giant, as the oil major hunts for a blockbuster deal in the shale patch, according to people familiar with the matter.

Discussions between the two companies about a potential deal have been informal, the people said. But after posting record profits in 2022, Exxon is flush with cash and, according to people familiar with the company’s plans, has been exploring options that could reshape a swath of the U.S. oil and gas industry while pushing Exxon deeper into West Texas shale.

Exxon executives have discussed a potential tie-up with at least one other company, people familiar with the matter said. Some of the people cautioned there is no formal process between Exxon and Pioneer.

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Any deal, if it happens, likely wouldn’t come together until later this year or next year, the people said, and talks may not morph into formal negotiations at all or Exxon may pursue another company. But they said Exxon is on the hunt for a seismic deal to put its windfall profits to use and sees Dallas area-based Pioneer as a top target.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
XOM EXXON MOBIL CORP. 113.27 +0.02 +0.02%
PXD n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.

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An acquisition of Pioneer, with a market cap of around $49 billion, would likely be Exxon’s largest since its mega-merger with Mobil Corp. in 1999. It would give Exxon a dominant position in the oil-rich Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico, a region Exxon has said is integral to its growth plans.

Pioneer’s size would likely put an acquisition of the company ahead of the U.S. oil industry’s most recent blockbuster, Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s 2019 purchase of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. for about $38 billion, and top Exxon’s 2010 acquisition of XTO Energy Inc. for more than $30 billion.

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