NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- DryShips ( DRYS), the dry-bulk shipping company, said Thursday it would begin a partial spinoff of its drill-rig subsidiary Ocean Rig.

The Athens, Greece-based company said it would distribute about 3 million shares of Ocean Rig common stock by Sept. 21, which would reduce DryShips ownership interest by 2% to 76%. The announcement came before the maritime shipping company reports second-quarter earnings on Thursday.

The much-anticipated spinoff came amid another poor quarter for an industry that has suffered since the recession of 2008 and 2009.

>>Dry Bulk Profits Held Back by Too Many Ships

"The investment decision that was taken in 2007 to diversify into the ultra deepwater drilling sector is set to be a profitable venture that we believe will deliver substantial value to DryShips shareholders," CEO George Economou said in a statement Thursday. "This dividend is the first step in delivering value to our shareholders from the Ocean Rig investment and we are considering further alternatives including regular dividends and stock buybacks."

DryShips has managed to outperform some of its major competitors in recent months because of the success in its rig business. But uncertainty still surrounds the company's second-quarter earnings after Eagle Bulk Shipping ( EGLE - Get Report), Excel Maritime Carriers ( EXM) and Genco Shipping & Trading ( GNK - Get Report) all reported drops in profit for the same period. Only Eagle Bulk boosted revenue.

DryShips shares were at $3.18 a share, dipping 5% on Thursday afternoon.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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