22 August 2019
Sue Ann Hamm wants more of the wealth accumulated during her marriage. Photo: Reuters
Sue Ann Hamm wants more of the wealth accumulated during her marriage. Photo: Reuters

US$1 bln divorce award too little, oil mogul’s ex-wife says

A US oil tycoon’s ex-wife who got more than US$1 billion in a divorce judgment this week plans to appeal the award, Reuters reported Friday.

Sue Ann Hamm feels shortchanged by the ruling, which allows Continental Resources founder and chief executive Harold Hamm to keep about 94 percent of the estimated US$18 billion rise in the value of his shares in the firm during their 26-year marriage, her lawyer said.

She will appeal within a few weeks, he said.

On Monday, an Oklahoma judge ordered the oilman, who is believed to own more oil than any other American, to pay his ex-wife US$995 million.

The ruling allows her to keep additional assets, including a California ranch and an Oklahoma home, worth tens of millions more.

Harold Hamm holds more than 68 percent of Continental’s stock, a stake valued at about US$13.5 billion today. It was worth more than US$18 billion before the two-month divorce trial began in August. The firm’s shares have fallen sharply recently, in line with global oil prices.

A lawyer and economist, Sue Ann Hamm worked at Continental during stretches of the couple’s marriage, which began in 1988. At one point, the ruling says, she was an executive in charge of Continental’s crude marketing division.

She left the company in 2008. At other times she worked at home, helping to raise the couple’s two children.

The couple had no prenuptial agreement. 

Harold Hamm, 68, founded Continental in 1967, more than two decades before he married Sue Ann. But Oklahoma law typically requires that the enhanced value of premarital property be split “equitably” in a divorce if it resulted from the efforts or skills of either spouse during the marriage.

The judge attributed most of Continental’s growth during the marriage to passive or market factors, including rising oil prices and new drilling technologies.

Continental holds a leading position in the Bakken Shale, the largest US oil discovery in decades. Harold Hamm is often credited with pioneering its development.

“We believe that Harold should be given more credit for Continental’s success,” Sue Ann Hamm’s lawyers said.

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Harold Hamm owns more oil underground than any other American. Photo: Reuters

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