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Devon Energy ready to cash in on 2010 asset sales

Devon Energy Corp. expects to bring back to the United States about $2 billion from some 2010 asset sales, thanks to a change in its tax position, officials said Wednesday.
BY JAY F. MARKS Modified: May 1, 2013 at 9:44 pm •  Published: May 2, 2013

Devon Energy Corp. is about to get a major cash infusion, officials said Wednesday.

The Oklahoma City oil and natural gas producer has banked more than $6 billion to avoid paying higher U.S. taxes on proceeds from its foreign asset sales in 2010-2011.

“Recent changes to our tax position now afford us the opportunity to immediately repatriate approximately $2 billion of our foreign cash with minimal additional tax,” CEO John Richels said Wednesday during Devon's first-quarter earnings call.

Jeff Agosta, Devon's chief financial officer, said the company expects net operating losses from last year to offset the taxes it would have to pay on its repatriated foreign cash.

Lower commodity prices played a role in those operating losses, just as they did for the first quarter of 2013.

Devon on Wednesday reported a net loss of $1.3 billion, or $3.34 a share, for the quarter because of a $1.9 billion noncash impairment charge related to lower oil and natural gas liquids prices.

Excluding that charge, Devon earned $270 million, or 66 cents a share, in the quarter. The company reported net earnings of $393 million, or 97 cents a share, for the same period of 2012.

Tax implications

Devon is set to capitalize on waiting to bring home the proceeds from its foreign asset sales.

Agosta said Devon will be taxed at a percentage “in the middle single digits” when it returns that cash to the U.S.

Officials said taxes likely would have been about 25 percent if the cash had been repatriated immediately after Devon's asset sales.

Agosta expects Devon to move $2 billion back to the U.S. by midyear, with the potential to repatriate another “sizable amount” of cash later this year or in 2014.

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