A judge in Oklahoma is ordering the chairman and CEO of energy giant Continental Resources Inc. to pay his wife nearly $1 billion as part of a divorce settlement.
Reuters' Joshua Schneyer reports the award makes Sue Ann Hamm one of the wealthiest women in the United States, but it's much smaller than what her lawyers wanted, and doesn't require Harold Hamm to sell shares of the company he founded.
He holds 68 percent of the firm's shares. During the trial, Sue Ann Hamm's lawyers had asked Haralson to split a marital estate they estimated to be worth at least $17 billion, tied up in Continental shares.
Judge Haralson's ruling is subject to appeal, but if accepted by both parties it would allow Continental's CEO to put a contentious and time-consuming divorce behind him and to remain the controlling shareholder of one of America's most successful oil companies.
"As Continental has stated on numerous previous occasions, this private matter has not, and will not have any impact or effect on the Company’s business or operations," Continental said in a statement.
The judge's order, released Monday, directs Harold Hamm to pay his ex-wife, Sue Ann Hamm, $995.4 million for "property division alimony."
The Associated Press says Harold Hamm was directed to pay $322 million to Sue Ann Hamm by the end of the year, with minimum payments of $7 million each month starting in January to pay off the remaining balance.
Sue Ann Hamm was awarded the couple's $4.6 million marital home in Nichols Hills, Oklahoma, an $800,000 home in Enid, Oklahoma, and a $17.4 million home in Carmel Valley, California.
Harold Hamm was awarded a $750,000 home in Branson, Missouri, along with a log cabin and 154 acres in Major County, Oklahoma, valued at about $300,000.
The order states that marital assets awarded to Harold Hamm totaled more than $2 billion. Schneyer says the ruling could come as a relief to some Continental shareholders, who had worried Hamm might have to sell a major stake in the company quickly, eroding his control.
Following news of the judgment, Continental shares fell 1.6 percent to $54.22 per share. The shares have lost around 30 percent since July 1, in step with tumbling world oil prices.
Harold Hamm's Continental stake is now worth around $13.9 billion, down from more than $18 billion before the trial began.
Oklahoma City-based Continental is a leading driller in the Bakken Shale play of North Dakota and Montana, the largest U.S. oil discovery in decades. Through his stake in Continental, Harold Hamm is believed to own more oil underground than any other American.
The Hamms wed in 1988 and had no prenuptial agreement. For years, Sue Ann Hamm was also an executive at Continental.
The couple has been married since 1988. Sue Ann Hamm filed for divorce in 2012.
The judge ordered transcripts in the divorce case to be sealed.
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