Nov 10 – An Oklahoma County judge has ordered and Continental Resources Chief Executive Officer Harold Hamm to pay nearly $1 billion in a divorce judgment, according to a court filing made public on Monday.
In one of the highest value divorce judgments in U.S. history, Special Judge Howard Haralson found that oil magnate Hamm should pay his ex-wife Sue Ann Hamm a total of $995.5 million.
Although the divorce award could make Sue Ann Hamm, 58, one of the 100 wealthiest women in the United States, according to Forbes’ rankings, it is far smaller than the amount her lawyers sought.
The ruling, which is subject to appeal, comes after a 9-1/2 week divorce trial ended last month.
In a 2010 divorce settlement, casino magnate Steve Wynn agreed to transfer 11 million shares in Wynn Resorts, then worth $741 million, to his ex-wife Elaine, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Sue Ann Hamm’s lawyers had contended that the court should split up most of the wealth tied up in Harold Hamm’s stake in the Oklahoma City-based company he runs and founded, Continental Resources. His 68 percent stake in the firm is worth about $13.8 billion.
An award under the $1 billion mark may allow him to avoid selling any big chunk of equity in the company to fund the divorce.
To secure the judgment, Judge Haralson placed a lien on 20 million shares of Continental stock, or around 1/6th of the shares in Harold Hamm’s name. That decision does not require him to sell shares.
Judge Haralson ordered Hamm, 68, to pay his ex-wife about one-third of the funds, or $322.7 million, by the end of 2014, the filing says.
Hamm will be required to pay the rest of the judgment, about $650 million, in installments worth at least $7 million per month, according to the filing. Sue Ann Hamm has already been awarded around $25 million since the case was filed in 2012, the court said.
After trading slightly higher after news of the judgment came out, Continental shares traded lower, falling 1 percent to $54.58 per share around 3 p.m. in New York.
Analysts who cover the company said the divorce judgment may come as a relief to some of Continental’s other shareholders, who had worried that a multi-billion dollar award could force Hamm to sell a major chunk of the company quickly, potentially depressing the value of the shares or eroding his control of the firm.
“With this rather small settlement, it just removes some of the uncertainty,” said Mike Breard, analyst with Hodges Capital Management in Dallas. “And there’s already enough uncertainty around energy stocks right now with the oil price drop.”
Continental did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Additional reporting by Brian Grow in Atlanta and Terry Wade in Houston; Editing by Dan Grebler)