M&A moves

ConocoPhillips buying Marathon Oil for $17.B in all-stock deal as energy prices rise

The deal to combine the two Houston-headquartered companies is valued at $22.5 billion when including $5.4 billion in debt. Photo via conocophillips.com

ConocoPhillips is buying Marathon Oil in an all-stock deal valued at approximately $17.1 billion as energy prices rise and big oil companies reap massive profits.

The deal to combine the two Houston-headquartered companies is valued at $22.5 billion when including $5.4 billion in debt.

Crude prices have jumped more than 12% this year and the cost for a barrel rose above $80 this week. Oil majors put up record profits after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and while those numbers have slipped, there has been a surge in mergers between energy companies flush with cash.

Chevron said last year that it was buying Hess in a $53 billion acquisition, though that deal faces headwinds. The company warned the buyout may be in jeopardy because it will require the approval of Exxon Mobil and a Chinese national oil company, which both hold rights to development of an oil field off the coast of the South American nation Guyana where Hess is a big player.

In July of last year, Exxon Mobil said that it would pay $4.9 billion for Denbury Resources, an oil and gas producer that has entered the business of capturing and storing carbon and stands to benefit from changes in U.S. climate policy. Three months later, Exxon announced the proposed acquisition of shale operator Pioneer Natural Resources for $60 billion.

All of the proposed acquisitions could face pushback from the U.S. which, under the Biden administration, has stepped up antitrust reviews for energy companies and other sectors as well, such as tech.

Federal Trade Commission, which enforces federal antitrust law, asked for additional information from Exxon and Pioneer about their proposed deal. The request is a step the agency takes when reviewing whether a merger could be anticompetitive under U.S. law. Pioneer disclosed the request in a filing in January.

As part of the ConocoPhillips transaction, Marathon Oil shareholders will receive 0.2550 shares of ConocoPhillips common stock for each share of Marathon Oil common stock that they own, the companies said Wednesday.

ConocoPhillips said Wednesday that the transaction will add highly desired acreage to its existing U.S. onshore portfolio.

“This acquisition of Marathon Oil further deepens our portfolio and fits within our financial framework, adding high-quality, low cost of supply inventory adjacent to our leading U.S. unconventional position,” ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO Ryan Lance said in a prepared statement.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. It still needs approval from Marathon Oil stockholders.

Separate from the transaction, ConocoPhillips said that it anticipates raising its ordinary dividend by 34% to 78 cents per share starting in the fourth quarter. The company said that once the Marathon Oil deal closes and assuming recent commodity prices, ConocoPhillips plans to buy back more than $7 billion in shares in the first full year. It plans to repurchase more than $20 billion in shares in the first three years.

Shares of ConocoPhillips declined 3.3% before the market open, while Marathon Oil Corp.'s stock rose more than 7%.

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A View From HETI

Houston could have ranked higher on a global report of top cities in the world if it had a bit more business diversification. Photo via Getty Images

A new analysis positions the Energy Capital of the World as an economic dynamo, albeit a flawed one.

The recently released Oxford Economics Global Cities Index, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the world’s 1,000 largest cities, puts Houston at No. 25.

Houston ranks well for economics (No. 15) and human capital (No. 18), but ranks poorly for governance (No. 184), environment (No. 271), and quality of life (No. 298).

New York City appears at No. 1 on the index, followed by London; San Jose, California; Tokyo; and Paris. Dallas lands at No. 18 and Austin at No. 39.

In its Global Cities Index report, Oxford Economics says Houston’s status as “an international and vertically integrated hub for the oil and gas sector makes it an economic powerhouse. Most aspects of the industry — downstream, midstream, and upstream — are managed from here, including the major fuel refining and petrochemicals sectors.”

“And although the city has notable aerospace and logistics sectors and has diversified into other areas such as biomedical research and tech, its fortunes remain very much tied to oil and gas,” the report adds. “As such, its economic stability and growth lag other leading cities in the index.”

The report points out that Houston ranks highly in the human capital category thanks to the large number of corporate headquarters in the region. The Houston area is home to the headquarters of 26 Fortune 500 companies, including ExxonMobil, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Sysco.

Another contributor to Houston’s human capital ranking, the report says, is the presence of Rice University, the University of Houston and the Texas Medical Center.

“Despite this,” says the report, “it lacks the number of world-leading universities that other cities have, and only performs moderately in terms of the educational attainment of its residents.”

Slower-than-expected population growth and an aging population weaken Houston’s human capital score, the report says.

Meanwhile, Houston’s score for quality is life is hurt by a high level of income inequality, along with a low life expectancy compared with nearly half the 1,000 cities on the list, says the report.

Also in the quality-of-life bucket, the report underscores the region’s variety of arts, cultural, and recreational activities. But that’s offset by urban sprawl, traffic congestion, an underdeveloped public transportation system, decreased air quality, and high carbon emissions.

Furthermore, the report downgrades Houston’s environmental stature due to the risks of hurricanes and flooding.

“Undoubtedly, Houston is a leading business [center] that plays a key role in supporting the U.S. economy,” says the report, “but given its shortcomings in other categories, it will need to follow the path of some of its more well-rounded peers in order to move up in the rankings.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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