Hess Sets Another Buyback Amid Fight With Activist Investor

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03/08/2018 | 03:04 pm
John Hess

By Bradley Olson and David Benoit

Hess Corp. on Thursday announced it would buy back an additional $1 billion in shares, taking steps to head off a potentially nasty proxy fight with activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp.

The share purchases come one day before the company's deadline for nominating new directors. It is unclear if the plan will be enough for Elliott, which was weighing whether to seek the ouster of John Hess, the company's chief executive.

The hedge fund, which owns more than 6% of Hess shares, had been seeking greater shareholder returns as the company's performance lagged in the last year, according to people familiar with the matter.

The buyback is in addition to $500 million the company had already announced, bringing the total to $1.5 billion. Hess shares rose more than 2% in premarket trading.

Write to Bradley Olson at Bradley.Olson@wsj.com and David Benoit at david.benoit@wsj.com

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