The chief executives of ExxonMobil Corp and Chevron Corp held preliminary talks in early 2020 to explore combining the two largest US oil producers in what would have been the biggest merger of all time, according to people familiar with the matter.
The discussions, which are no longer ongoing, are indicative of the pressure the energy sector’s most dominant companies faced as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and crude prices plunged.
The talks between Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods and Chevron CEO Mike Wirth were serious enough for legal documents involving certain aspects of the merger discussions to be drafted, one of the sources said. The reason the talks ended could not be learned.
The sources requested anonymity because the matter is confidential. Exxon and Chevron, which have market capitalizations of $190 billion and $164 billion, respectively, declined to comment.
(Reporting by Mike Spector in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis)