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Exxon to exit from its utility and power unit in Hong Kong for USD3.4 billion

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(Credit: Reuters) This image is a signage of the Exxon Mobil Corp logo at a gas station.Exxon Mobil Corp
November 19
8:23 AM 2013

A Reuters report said Exxon Mobil Corp would be selling off its controlling interests in a utility firm and a power storage unit both located in Hong Kong. The asset sales would fetch Exxon a combined USD3.4 billion, which would reportedly be funneled back to the company's core businesses.

Exxon's latest exit highlighted the poor investment decisions of some of the major integrated global oil companies who had poured large amounts of money into new projects in the past few years. In the first nine months this 2013 alone, Exxon spent USD33 billion in new projects. Moreover, major oil companies like Exxon were aiming to return equity to its investors via asset sales, dividends or stock buybacks in light of analysts saying that their stocks had been lagging on the stock market.

The world's biggest oil firm by market value would be divesting its interest in Castle Peak Co Ltd, which is one of the main providers of electricity in Hong Kong. CLP Holdings would be assuming control of the electricity provider with a 70% ownership stake after purchasing half of Exxon's holding for HKD12 billion or USD1.6 billion. The remaining 30% would be acquired by China Southern Grid, a state-owned company. China Southern had not disclosed financial details of the transaction, but a source who was close to the deal told Reuters that the state-owned company would be paying Exxon the same amount CLP Holdings did.

CLP, meanwhile, would be acquiring Exxon's 51% ownership in Hong Kong Pumped Storage Development Co in a HKD2 billion transaction.

Exxon had been looking for a buyer of its holdings in the utility and power firms earlier this year. Although the share sale generated interest from some Southeast Asian and Japan bidders, CLP emerged as the natural winner considering it already had a 40% existing interest in the assets, sources who were familiar with the matter said.

CLP had been providing electricity to the city of Hong Kong for more than a century. Backed by the wealthy Kadoorie family, the company said the acquisitions would help it manage and coordinate its business in power generation and distribution.

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