Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

DuPont May Sell All of CONOCO

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

DuPont May Sell All of CONOCO

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- DuPont, which in May announced plans to sell the public 20 percent of its Conoco oil subsidiary, may now be looking to sell all of Conoco.

DuPont declined to comment Monday on a Sunday report in a London newspaper that the French oil company Elf Aquitaine wants to buy Conoco for $24 billion, but analysts said a sale to Elf or another middle-sized petroleum company would make strategic sense for DuPont.

The article in the London newspaper, The Financial Mail, which said Elf was preparing an offer that would include swapping some assets with DuPont, said other oil companies were also looking at Conoco, the ninth-largest oil company in the United States. The report, citing an unidentified industry official, did not name any other potential bidders.

The report comes less than a week after British Petroleum said it would buy Amoco for $48.2 billion in stock and cash, setting off speculation that more middle-sized oil companies may merge so they can hold down costs in an era of cheap oil and compete with the biggest

of the oil giants, Exxon and Royal Dutch/Shell. British Petroleum acquired Standard of Ohio in 1987.

Catherine Durand, an Elf Aquitaine spokeswoman reached at her home in Paris, said the company would not comment on "stock exchange speculation."

Susan Gaffney, a DuPont spokeswoman, said the company would not comment on the report. But nothing in DuPont's planned initial public offering of Conoco shares would preclude an outright sale of the company, she said.

Conoco's mid-continent business unit and operations are headquartered in Ponca City. The company employs about 2,000 workers at the refinery and corporate offices in Ponca City.

In May, DuPont announced that it would make an initial public offering for 20 percent of Conoco as part of its strategy to rely less on its cyclical petrochemicals business. Instead, DuPont wants to concentrate more on development of genetically engineered products to generate future growth and existing products, such as specialty chemicals, that it believes are less subject to wide swings in demand and price.

DuPont, which has been expected to hold a so-called road show for potential Conoco investors next month, said in May the IPO was a step toward divesting itself of Conoco. …

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