Williams to spin off exploration unit, nixes IPO

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Williams Cos. on Tuesday said it has set aside its plans for an initial public offering for its gas exploration and production business because the stock market has little appetite now for new issues.

Instead, it will separate itself into two standalone, publicly traded corporations by the end of the year.

Weak stock markets, particularly for IPOs, made the offering unattractive, said Williams Co. President and CEO Alan Armstrong.

Following the spinoff, shareholders will own common stock in both Williams, as an owner/operator of natural gas pipelines, and WPX Energy Inc., as an exploration and production company.

WPX Energy’s stock will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “WPX.”

In addition, Ralph A. Hill, 51, was named chief executive officer of WPX Energy.

The company also named the following executives for the soon-to-be independent company: Rodney J. Sailor, 52, chief financial officer and treasurer; James J. Bender, 54, general counsel and corporate secretary; Bryan K. Guderian, 52, senior vice president of operations; Neal A. Buck, 55, senior vice president of business development and land; Marcia MacLeod, 58, senior vice president of human resources and administration; Michael R. Fiser, 47, senior vice president of marketing; Steven G. Natali, 57, senior vice president of exploration, and J. Kevin Vann, 40, chief accounting officer and controller.

The company, which is based in Tulsa, said it expects to submit detailed information about WPX Energy’s business with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

Shares of Williams Cos. closed Tuesday trading up $1.52, or 5.5 percent, at $29.06. The stock has traded between $20.20 and $33.47 in the past 52 weeks.

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