WARDS' SPINOFF MONEY MIGHT PAY MOBIL DEBT, BUY TEXACO PROPERTIES

WARDS' SPINOFF MONEY MIGHT PAY MOBIL DEBT, BUY TEXACO PROPERTIES

The head of Mobil Corp. said that the company has no immediate plans for the $1.5 billion it will get for Montgomery Ward & Co., but he did rule out a few possibilities, including another megamerger.

Mobil Chairman Allen Murray also said the oil giant probably won't increase its dividend or begin a stock buy back, but indicated it would use some of the money from the Wards' spinoff and other sales to pay off debt.Mr. Murray also said that Mobil is interested in some of the $3 billion of properties that Texaco Inc. plans on selling to pay off its creditors and emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

And he said he thinks world oil prices will soon go up again, adding that prices would not have slumped this winter if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries had lowered output for the first half of the year.

Speaking to security analysts in Chicago, Mr. Murray said Mobil, the nation's second-biggest energy company, will not again stray beyond its core businesses: oil and natural gas, petrochemicals and real estate.

We're back to basics, he said.

That is why Mobil sold its Chicago-based Wards' retail unit to an investor group led by Wards President Bernard Brennan and why Mobil intends to sell off other holdings worth some $500 million.

Asked what the New York-based company will do with the proceeds, Mr. Murray said: Initially nothing, really. I can't tell you we're going to repurchase stock; I can't tell you that we're going to increase our dividend.

All I can say at the moment is we're going to put it in the bank.

He hinted, though, that Mobil would probably spend more money upgrading its gas stations in its 16-state market, which includes Chicago, and that Mobil would be smart to reduce more of its debt, much of which stems from its $5.7 billion takeover of Superior Oil Co. in 1984.

Mr. Murray was then asked whether Mobil planned another huge acquisition like Superior. There's nothing in the cards at the moment, he said. There does not appear to be any bargains out there.

But he acknowledged that Mobil has been looking at assets Texaco appears ready to sell and would buy if the price is right.

He also said that Mobil would be delighted if the price and terms are right to enter a venture with an OPEC nation, such as Saudi Arabia. Texaco has said it is negotiating with Saudi Arabia to form a partnership in U.S. refining and marketing.