Freeport's stuck with oil and gas

Shares in copper and gold giant Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) showed little reaction on Tuesday to news that the company is removing the top management of its oil and gas business and reintegrating the operation into the larger group.

The Phoenix-based company announced in October that it's trimming its board and reviewing the oil and gas division which could include an outright sale, but today's announcement appears to indicate no buyers have been found.

Freeport needs cash to reduce its debt pile of roughly $20 billion, much of which is the result of the ill-advised energy purchase made less than four years ago.

In December 2012 Freeport acquired Plains Exploration  for $6.9bn and bought back for $3.4bn in cash McMoRan Exploration, a deep sea drilling company, which it spun off 18 years before.

At the time of the oil and gas investment in December 2012 Freeport was worth more than $30 billion.

A recovery in oil prices following 13-year lows below $27 a barrel hit in February and a copper price back above $2.00 a pound has seen Freeport stock gain 38% so far this year, but the company's market value today is a much more modest $11.2 billion.