ConocoPhillips board approves split

HOUSTON (AP) — Oil giant ConocoPhillips said Wednesday that its board of directors gave final approval for its plan to split into two companies — one that produces oil and another that refines it.

The refining company will be called Phillips 66 and the oil producing company will keep the ConocoPhillips name. The official split is set for April 30, when new shares of Phillips 66 are distributed to owners of ConocoPhillips common stock.

The split was first announced in July, and was cheered by Wall Street analysts and investors who saw advantages in running smaller, more focused operations.

The move continues ConocoPhillips' evolution, after it spent billions of dollars over the past several years growing into America's third-largest oil company.

After snapping up Burlington Resources for $35 billion and making multi-billion dollar investments in Russia's Lukoil and the Rockies Express gas pipeline, Conoco was deep in debt. The company has been trying to pare down since 2010.

Ryan Lance will be Chairman and CEO of the new ConocoPhillips. He was senior vice president of exploration and production, international for the original company. Phillips 66 will be led by Chairman and CEO Greg Garland, who was senior vice president of exploration and production, Americas.

The company said previously that current CEO Jim Mulva will retire when the spin-off is completed.

Both companies will be headquartered in Houston.

Phillips 66 will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol PSX.

Shares of ConocoPhillips fell 13 cents to close at $76.18 amid a broader market downturn Wednesday. The stock has traded between $58.65 and $81.75 over the last year.