(Bloomberg) – Exxon Mobil Corp. has a high bar for potential acquisitions and will only pursue a large transaction if it finds unique ways of extracting value from a deal, said Chief Financial Officer Kathy Mikells.
“Exxon Mobil is a pretty picky acquirer,” Mikells said during an interview. The executive team is focused on “ensuring that significant synergies would come from any transaction that would enable us to put one plus one together to create three.”
The Texas oil giant held early-stage talks with Permian Basin driller Pioneer Natural Resources Co., the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month. The companies have declined to comment but analysts have said such a deal would make strategic sense if Exxon could stomach the price tag of more than $50 billion.
“Overall if you look at the market we’re still in a reasonably high-price, high-margin environment,” Mikells said. “If you look sequentially you see a bit of a softening in energy prices and a bit of a softening in refining margins but overall we would say it’s still a pretty strong market.”
Exxon can afford to be choosy because of its “industry leading line up of organic opportunities,” Mikells said. The company was forced to put several major projects, such as liquefied natural gas in Mozambique, on hold during the pandemic-drive collapse in energy markets. Now, however, Exxon has the financial firepower to restart them at will.