Hess, targeted by Elliott, to cut 300 jobs to trim costs

By Ryan Collins on 1/16/2018

HOUSTON (Bloomberg) -- Hess Corp., the oil producer targeted by hedge fund Elliott Management Corp., plans to shed about 300 jobs in 2018 as it seeks to cut costs by $150 million a year.

The layoffs are part of a cost-reduction program announced in October and will represent a 15% decrease in the New York-based company’s workforce, based on the headcount at the end of 2017, said Lorrie Hecker, a spokeswoman for Hess. The company is also aiming to make reductions in its contractor base, she said. Reuters reported the plan earlier.

“We moved aggressively in 2017 to focus and high-grade our company’s portfolio," Hecker said. "The combination of this cost reduction program and our high-graded portfolio is expected to drive down cash unit production costs by approximately 30%" by 2020.

Last month, Elliott called for Chief Executive Officer John Hess to fix the oil producer his father founded or get out. The feud between Elliott and Hess goes back at least four years. The fund is calling for Elliot to sell assets in Southeast Asia and wants the company to focus on share buybacks instead of dividends.

Hess estimates that its drive to reduce costs will save about $150 million a year starting in 2019, Hecker said. Shares of the company were down 1.6% to $53.66 at 3:23 p.m. in New York.

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