Oklahoma City, OK- Most divorces aren’t that closely watched on Wall Street, but the impending divorce of oil tycoon Harold Hamm has sent ripples through the financial world since it may likely become the most expensive divorce of all time and shows how infidelity can unravel an empire.
Court records show that Sue Ann Hamm filed for divorce from one of the country’s wealthiest men Harold Hamm on March 7th. Although the court records are sealed, Reuters discovered that Sue Ann is seeking to end her marriage because her husband Howard allegedly had an affair in 2010.
Sue Ann and Harold married in 1989, just one year after he split with his first wife with whom he has three children. Shortly after their marriage, Sue Ann gave birth to two children who are now both adults.
Both the Hamms worked closely together to turn Continental Resources, the company Harold founded in 1967, into a formidable force in the oil and energy industry. They both have an influential voice in politics; Harold served as Mitt Romney’s energy advisor during the 2012 Presidential Election and Sue Ann testified before Congress on behalf of the company.
Since the court documents are sealed, it is unclear if the Harold and Sue Ann signed a pre-nuptial agreement. If she did, her settlement could be limited to specific and possibly smaller sum than the traditional split 50/50 split.
Not all courts split marital assets precisely in half and a judge can award a spouse more or less depending on their “equitable” stake in the marriage. A spouse’s contribution to marital wealth along the duration of their marriage are taken into account when before the final settlement is awarded.
Sue Ann Hamm, who is an economist and a lawyer, may be entitled to half her husband’s assets since she not only worked at Continental Resources, but also developed the oil and gas marketing units, Reuters noted.
On the other hand, if there is a prenuptial agreement and the infidelity accusations prove to be true, and Mrs. Hamm could net $5 billion, giving her half of Harold’s 68 percent stake in Continental, Reuters reported.
Sue Ann Hamm’s possible settlement will far overshadow the $1.7 billion Rupert Murdock, of News Corp. paid his to settle his divorce with his second wife in 1999, which at that time was the most expensive divorce settlement in history.
The Hamm divorce will be closely watched especially by investors. Although Continental isn’t required by law to disclose the impending divorce, financial analysts believe it is information that investors need to know, since his estranged wife stands could to seize partial control of the company.
On their website Continental released a statement which read: “Today, Harold Hamm has announced that a petition for divorce is pending in the District Court of Oklahoma County. This private matter has not and is not anticipated to have any impact or effect on the Company’s business or operations.”
Because this divorce entails salacious accusations, it won’t only be investors who closely follow this divorce to the bitter end.