Oil Tycoon’s Divorce Filing Raises Questions about Securities

Hundreds of Americans file for divorce every day. In most divorces, there are financial aspects to settle such as who gets the house, or how to divide the 401k. A recent divorce filing has shocked the business world as one of the richest men in the world prepares to battle for his own finances as well as those of his publicly-traded company. Harold Hamm and his company Continental Resources will be affected by the high asset divorce settlement that will be played out in the courtroom in the coming months.

The couple, married 26 years, is now mulling through divorce proceedings — and they didn’t sign a prenuptial agreement. This means that everything accumulated between the start of the marriage and now is technically up for the division of marital property. This would include the business assets accumulated to an estimated $20 billion.

Since the financial portion is connected directly to the business Mr. Hamm built, the division of assets will be determined under Oklahoma state law by whether Mr. Hamm built his oil fortune on dumb luck or well-played business decisions.

This is defined as wealth accumulated through an active or passive accumulation of assets. Did world economic factors and global demand make Mr. Hamm a rich man, or was it his well-calculated business decisions?

The business world is abuzz of this divorce. It makes stockholders question what will become of the company if Mr. Hamm has to sell a large percentage to cover a divorce settlement. It is important Texas residents be aware of this since many have built fortunes or are investors of fortunes built on Texas oil fields. Continental Resources stock dipped after the news broke of the divorce — but it has since rebounded. Apparently, stockholders think dumb luck was all it took for Mr. Hamm to build his empire.

Source: businessweek.com, “This Oil Billionaire Needs a Lucky Break in Divorce Court,” Bryan Gruley, Sept. 3, 2014

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