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Helix Aims To Exit Oil And Gas

08 March 2010

Investors happily dipped into Helix Energy Solutions on Monday after the company announced plans to exit the oil and gas business in an ongoing effort to focus on deepwater wells and subsea construction.

On news of the intended divestiture, shares of Helix Energy Solutions ( HLX - news - people ) gained up 75 cents, or 6.3%, to $12.61 in midday trading.

The company said the move is part of its plan to sell a series of non-core assets first announced in December 2008. Since the initial announcement, Helix has divested the majority of its stake in marine contractor Cal Dive International, as well as its reservoir consulting business Helix RDS.

In conjunction with the intended sale of its oil and gas business, Robert Murphy, executive vice president of that division, will step down from his post and leave the Houston, Texas-based company. Johnny Edwards, president of the oil and gas business, will lead the unit through its sale. The company provided no timetable for the sale, nor did it suggest any deals were in the works.

In its fourth-quarter earnings report released on February 24, Owen Kratz, Helix's chief executive, said the company was "poised to increase its oil and gas production in 2010" after repairs to a third-party pipeline that services the company's Noonan natural gas field negatively impacted Helix's production late in 2009.

Other oil and well services firms were mixed Monday. Oceaneering International ( OII - news - people ) gained 39 cents, or .6%, to $63.03; Halliburton ( HAL - news - people ) dipped 26 cents, or .8%, to $31.62; and Acergy ( ACGY - news - people ) jumped 12 cents, or .7%, to $18.11.