In the wake of the failed merger between the Williams Companies and Energy Transfer Equity, nearly half of the Williams’ board of directors resigned Thursday afternoon following an unsuccessful attempt to remove Alan Armstrong as the company’s Chief Executive Officer.
News of the board resignations spread quickly among the Tulsa business community.
“We were really surprised by today’s occurrence. This was not expected at this point. However, we see this as exceptionally good news,” said Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “Following these resignations, Williams, their CEO, and their remaining board of directors now appear to be totally aligned, and we think this gives them the best opportunity for future success,” said Neal.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Williams Chairman Frank MacInnis and activist investors Keith Meister and Eric Mandleblatt were identified as three of the eight board members who voted for the merger. Armstrong and four others voted against the merger, according to Securities Exchange Commission filings.
“There’s some bad blood in the boardroom that this thing (the merger) fell apart,” said Jake Dollarhide, CEO of Longbow Asset Management. “There were obviously two factions within the boardroom. Obviously, if they couldn’t drum up the support to oust the CEO, they had no reason to stay.”
“Today’s events give Williams, its shareholders, the city of Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma the greatest chance for success, both now and in the years to come,” said Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett in a statement issued by the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “We believe the new board will reflect a unified, long-term perspective similar to what was in place several decades ago when Williams invested hundreds of millions of dollars to revitalize our downtown,” said Bartlett.