Oil and Gas

Marathon announces plans to spin off its Speedway chain and bring in a new CEO next year

Key Points
  • Marathon Petroleum chief Gary Heminger will retire next year, when his current term ends, after almost a decade in charge.
  • The company also announced plans on Thursday to spin off its gas station business Speedway and review its midstream assets.
  • Elliott renewed its call for the company to be split into three separate entities last month and sought to remove Heminger, three years after the hedge fund asked the refiner to consider spinning off businesses.
  • Marathon beat analysts' estimates for quarterly profit on Thursday, benefiting from transporting higher volumes of crude and natural gas across its pipelines.
Gary Heminger, CEO of Marathon Petroleum
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Marathon Petroleum chief Gary Heminger will retire next year after almost a decade in charge, the U.S. refiner said on Thursday, as it announced plans to spin off its gas station business Speedway and review its midstream assets.

The moves, which follow media reports earlier this week that the company was preparing to shake up management, respond in part to pressure from activist investors Elliott Management Corp and DE Shaw & Co for changes at the company.

CEO Heminger will retire next year when his current term ends. He has worked for Marathon since the mid-1970s and has been at the helm since 2011.

Last month, Elliott renewed its call for the company to be split into three separate entities and sought to remove Heminger, three years after the hedge fund asked the refiner to consider spinning off businesses.

Elliott said on Thursday it was supportive of Marathon's actions announced on Thursday, saying it expects these will unlock substantial value for shareholders.

Billionaire Paul Singer's Elliott, which owned 0.7% of Marathon as of June 30, according to Refinitiv data, has argued a split would boost shareholder value by as much as $40 billion.

DE Shaw, which owns a 0.9% stake in Marathon, has backed Elliott's call to split the company.

Regarding the spinoff, Marathon said Speedway would trade as an independent public company after the separation is completed.

Separately, Marathon beat analysts' estimates for quarterly profit on Thursday, benefiting from transporting higher volumes of crude and natural gas across its pipelines.

Excluding items, the company reported an adjusted profit of $1.63 per share, compared to analysts' average estimates of $1.38 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net income attributable to the company rose 48.6% to $1.10 billion or $1.67 per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

Total revenue and other income rose to $31.20 billion from $23.13 billion.