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USX, Ashland to Combine Operations to Cut Costs

May 16, 1997|From Reuters

USX Corp. and Ashland Inc. said Thursday that they will combine their oil-refining, marketing and transportation operations in a bid to cut costs in the competitive and profit-squeezed industry.

The move is the latest by major oil firms to try to bolster results in refining and marketing. Shell Oil Co. and Texaco Inc., for example, recently announced a joint venture.

Under the deal, USX's USX-Marathon Group subsidiary would own a 62% stake in the venture, which would include Ashland's refinery-produced petrochemicals. Ashland, Ky.-based Ashland would own 38%.

The firms said they expect the joint venture to result in substantial benefits through joining operations and other efficiency efforts. There are no plans to close major plants, but any future decisions about that will depend on business conditions, they said.

"The goal of this joint venture is to create a competitive enterprise which capitalizes on the strengths and complementary assets of both companies," said Thomas Usher, chairman of Pittsburgh-based USX.

Ashland stock closed up $1 at $46.50; USX-Marathon stock closed up 50 cents at $28.625. Both trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

The firms said job cuts and reassignments are likely, but did not specify how many workers could be affected. Chellgren declined to discuss potential cost savings, saying more review is needed.

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