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Hess, under pressure, to exit retail business

NEW YORK — Hess will rid itself of its retail operations, as well as its energy trading and marketing businesses, to focus more on exploration and production, sending its shares up 5 percent in premarket trading.

Hess Corp. also said Monday that it will nominate a slate of five independent directors for election to its board at its annual meeting in May. It also named a sixth director that will stand for election at the 2014 meeting. Six of the company’s current directors will leave the board.

The news comes just over a month after Hess investor Elliott Management pushed for changes at the New York company and began lobbying for new directors, accusing the board of poor oversight and the company’s management of more than a “decade of failures.”

Hess has already announced plans sell U.S. oil storage terminals and close a New Jersey refinery as it exits the volatile refining business. Murphy Oil, ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil Corp. have all split off their refining businesses in recent years to focus on exploration and production.

Hess will boost its annual dividend to $1 per share and buy back up to $4 billion in stock, the company said.

Hess shares rose $3.46 to $70 in premarket trading.

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