OIL INDUSTRY

Exxon to reduce workforce by 14,000

Exxon Mobil will slash its global workforce by 15 percent over the next two years, an unprecedented culling by North America’s biggest oil explorer as it struggles to preserve dividends.

The cuts will include 1,900 U.S. jobs, mostly in Houston, as well as reductions in contractors and layoffs previously announced in Europe and Australia. Personnel reductions are Chief Executive Darren Woods’s latest effort to curtail spending and halt the worst string of quarterly losses since Exxon assumed its modern form with the 1999 takeover of Mobil Corp.

Exxon’s total reduction will affect about 14,000 people, split between employees and contractors, spokesman Casey Norton said by email. The cuts will come through attrition, targeted redundancy programs in 2021, and scaled-back hiring in some countries.

Exxon’s Big Oil rivals are also cutting thousands of jobs in response to the coronavirus pandemic-induced demand slump. BP plans to slash 10,000 jobs, Royal Dutch Shell will cut as many as 9,000 positions, and Chevron has announced about 6,000 reductions.

Exxon’s workforce stood at about 88,000 people, including 75,000 in-house employees and the rest composed of contractors, as of year-end 2019, Norton said.

In the United States, the pain will be acute at the suburban Houston location where Exxon opened a sprawling, glass-walled campus in 2014 to house 9,000 employees from exploration, chemicals and other units that had been dispersed throughout the metro area. The company’s corporate headquarters remains in the Dallas area.

— Bloomberg News

RETAIL

LVMH agrees to buy Tiffany for lower price

LVMH agreed to buy Tiffany & Co. at a slightly reduced price of almost $16 billion, preserving the luxury industry’s biggest takeover and avoiding a courtroom battle over an earlier deal that soured.

The compromise ends a year-long saga characterized by accusations of bad faith, French government intervention and lawsuits. Both sides were due to meet in a Delaware court in January, after the Louis Vuitton owner walked away from their original agreement and Tiffany sued to keep it on track.

Adding Tiffany at a lower price reinforces LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault’s image as a hard-nosed bargainer, even though the savings — roughly $425 million — are a fraction of his company’s $240 billion market value. The deal gives LVMH a major boost in the global jewelry market, adding a famous brand that can compete with Richemont’s Cartier.

Under the new accord, the French owner of brands such as Dior fashions and Hennessy cognac will pay $131.50 a share, down from the original price of $135, according to a statement Thursday.

The reduction in the price follows Tiffany’s payment of dividends and management bonuses that angered LVMH. The payouts were made after the companies struck their first agreement in late 2019 and as the coronavirus pandemic caused a slump in luxury sales.

The new price is a reduction of only 2.6 percent from the original deal. The new accord was fueled by improving results at both companies. Some normalcy has returned to major luxury markets such as China, even as shutdowns recur in Europe.

— Bloomberg News

Also in Business

American Express said Thursday it is investing $1 billion to advance racial and gender equality, the latest in a line of U.S. companies pledging to promote social justice after race-related protests earlier in the year. The New York-based credit card issuer said it has achieved 100 percent pay equity for its employees and will continue to do so, as well as promote practices to hire and retain underrepresented people, including Black, Latinx and female colleagues. The company also said it intends to double its spending on diverse and minority-owned suppliers in the United States to $750 million annually.

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases personal income and spending for September.

8:30 a.m.: Labor Department releases the Employment Cost Index for the third quarter.

Earnings: Exxon Mobil

— From news services