Occidental, LA's biggest company, leaving for Houston

Occidental Petroleum's longtime Westwood home. LA Observed file photo

Occidental Petroleum has called Los Angeles home for nearly a century. On Friday the company revealed plans to spin off its California oil and gas assets into a separate publicly traded company, and move the rest of the company from its Westwood headquarters to Houston. Occidental is the largest publicly owned company in Los Angeles and the third biggest (by market capitalization) in the county, behind Walt Disney and Amgen, the LA Business Journal says. The move to Houston was not unexpected, but still stunning.

From the LABJ story:

Occidental is the state’s largest gas producer and the second largest oil producer behind Chevron Corp of San Ramon; the California operations reported earnings of $1.5 billion last year and capital expenditures of more than $2 billion....

Occidental has gradually been shifting operations from Westwood to Houston over the past year, joining the rush of companies seeking to boost their presence in the nation’s energy capital.

Local business leaders were saddened by the news of Occidental’s move to Houston.

"There had been discussion of this for quite some time and this move was not surprising given their business operations outside the state," Jeff Millman, spokesperson for Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "Mayor Garcetti and his business team are working relentlessly to bring new companies to Los Angeles to create jobs and improve our economy."

“Houston made a strategic decision decades ago to attract corporate headquarters or major operations for energy companies and they have been very successful,” said Gary Toebben, chief executive of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “Energy companies feel very welcome in Houston and in Texas.”

Occidental has been housed in the Claud Beelman-designed Kirkeby Center building at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards that also holds the Hammer Museum, which traces its origins to the late Occidental chairman Armand Hammer.

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