CORRECTED-Relational supports Elliott nominees to Hess board

Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:58pm GMT

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(Corrects paragraph three to say Relational sents a letter to Hess's CEO on Wednesday (not Thursday)

NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) - Activist investment firm Relational Investors LLC plans to support a slate of directors nominated to Hess Corp's board by hedge fund Elliott Management, saying those nominees would assure greater accountability at the oil and gas company.

Elliott has been clamoring for change at Hess since January, when it launched a campaign to seat five new directors on the board and pitched a plan to break up the company. Hess has since announced plans to exit its retail gasoline, marketing and trading businesses, and assembled its own slate of six new directors for its board.

Relational sent Hess Chief Executive John Hess a letter on Wednesday to make its position clear. The investment firm, which owns around 3 percent of Hess' outstanding shares, noted that the executive may have indicated in meetings with shareholders that Relational planned to support the Hess nominees.

Relational also urged Hess to negotiate with Elliott.

"Our preference would be a board consisting of you, the company's six new nominees plus Elliott's five nominees," Relational's David Batchelder wrote to the executive. "This would be a board of which we could all be proud."

Hess could not immediately be reached for comment. (Reporting By Michael Erman; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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