Freeport-McMoRan considers exiting oil and gas business

The Associated Press

Freeport-McMoRan said Tuesday that it is considering spinning off its oil and gas business and other strategic alternative to focus on its copper mining business.

NEW YORK (AP) — Freeport-McMoRan said Tuesday that it is considering spinning off its oil and gas business and other strategic alternative to focus on its copper mining business.

The Phoenix company produces oil and natural gas around the country. Energy companies have been hurt by falling oil prices and weaker demand. Many have cut spending as a result. Earlier this year, Freeport-McMoRan slashed its quarterly dividend 84 percent because of falling oil prices. And in August, Freeport-McMoRan announced a cost-cutting plan due to falling copper prices and soft economic conditions. That same month, activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed that he bought an 8.5 percent stake in the company and planned to discuss possible cuts in the company's operations.

Besides a spinoff, Freeport-McMoRan said it is also considering joint venture arrangements or cutting spending in the oil and gas business.

The company also shook up its board of directors, cutting its size to nine members from 16.

Shares of Freeport-McMoRan Inc. rose 43 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $11.61 in morning trading Tuesday. Its shares are down about 50 percent since the beginning of the year.

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