Valero Energy Corp.’s plan to cleave its convenience stores and gas stations from oil refining may allow the company to bolster its balance sheet by paying off debt and abandoning a business with narrowing profit margins.

The largest U.S. refiner by processing capacity aims to leave its retail unit with a comparable debt load to peers and keep investment-grade ratings for the remaining business. A dividend to the parent from the spinoff combined with reduced capital spending would let Valero pay off about $480 million of bonds due next year and leave the retailing business with about $750 million of debt, according to Gimme Credit LLC.

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