Thursday, March 27, 2014
From the Wall Street Journal:
Oil wildcatter Harold Hamm spent decades at the helm of Continental Resources Inc. as it became the most powerful company in North Dakota's Bakken Shale.
But because of a quirk in Oklahoma divorce law, the success of the tiny oil-patch outfit he founded in 1967, which became a drilling powerhouse, may work against him as he splits from his wife of 25 years—and may even weaken his control of the company.
The judge overseeing the couple's divorce in Oklahoma City, where the company is based, deemed most of Mr. Hamm's 68% stake in Continental—122 million shares out of the 126 million he owns—as his premarital property. That means those shares, worth more than $14.6 billion, aren't directly subject to division with Sue Ann Hamm, a former lawyer for Continental who married Mr. Hamm in 1988.
But in Oklahoma and a handful of other states, splitting up marital assets isn't that simple.
State law gives Mrs. Hamm the right to half of the increase in value of Mr. Hamm's premarital shares if she can prove the company's stock price rose over the course of their marriage because of her husband's efforts.
Read more here.