Continental Resources Inc. CEO Harold Hamm has been ordered to pay nearly $1 billion in a divorce judgment, making it one of the biggest payouts in history.
In an 80-page court ruling, made public on Monday, after a more than nine-week divorce trial, Oklahoma Special Judge Howard Haralson made a decision that oil tycoon Hamm should pay his ex-wife a total of $995.5 million.
According to the judgment, Mr. Hamm will first pay his ex-wife about $320 million, or one-third of the total settlement, by the end of 2014. The rest of sum will be pain in part of about $7 million a month. Sue Ann Hamm has already been awarded around $25 million since the case was filed in 2012, the filing says.
She also received a 97.2 percent stake in a company called Orbit Gas Transmission, which was valued at $3 million, even though Harold Hamm told the judge its true value should be zero, according to the order. He also said “it wouldn’t hurt his feelings” if the company was awarded to his ex-wife.
Among the assets that will go to Sue Ann Hamm, according to Haralson’s judgment, are the couple’s $17.5 million ranch in Carmel, California, and a home worth $4.7 million in Oklahoma City.
Even though the settlement could make Mrs. Hamm one of the 100 wealthiest women in the United States, it is a lot smaller that her lawyers wanted. However, it seems to be a rather modest payment in comparison with the $4.8 billion that the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev paid his ex-wife, Elena, this year.
Hamm’s lawyers are planning to appeal the ruling, 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,” the company said in a statement released Monday afternoon. “Out of respect for this private matter that has now been concluded, the company will have no further comment.”
Mr. Hamm spent his youth picking cotton, before starting his career at 20 by scrubbing the scum out of oil barrels. He worked his way up and was eventually able to drill his own wells. Fond of eating at burger bars, Mr Hamm has a reputation for being down-to-earth and drives his own truck.
The 68-year-old billionaire founded Continental in 1967, and 253 million shares of Continental stock are in his name. His stake was worth more than $18 billion when the trial started in August. It’s worth around $14 billion today.
Harold Hamm was just another middle-age multimillionaire when he married Sue Ann Hamm, his second wife and a woman a decade his junior, in 1988. At the time, Ms. Hamm was a lawyer at Continental and Mr. Hamm was just beginning to snap up roughly one million acres of land leases in North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada in what is the Bakken formation, says the NY Times.