Wires

EXCLUSIVE-Marathon Petroleum explores $15 bln MPLX asset sale -sources

David French

HOUSTON, March 11 (Reuters) - Marathon Petroleum Co, the largest U.S. independent refiner, is exploring the sale of assets of its pipeline subsidiary MPLX LP worth as much as $15 billion, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The move would give the Findlay, Ohio-based company a cash boost at a time when a looming economic slowdown triggered by the global coronavirus outbreak and lower oil prices are weighing on its prospects. Marathon's shares have lost half their value in the last three weeks.

Marathon is exploring a sale of MPLX's gathering and processing (G&P) business, which transports hydrocarbons from drilling sites to major pipelines, the sources said. Intrepid Financial Partners is advising on a sale process for the business, which is at its early stages, the sources added. If there is a deal, it could involve divesting a majority or minority stake in that business, according to the sources.

The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Marathon, MPLX and Intrepid did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Marathon had previously said it had formed a special board committee to explore options for its midstream operations, but had not announced a specific course of action.

(Reporting by David French in Houston Editing by Marguerita Choy)