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美国石油大王婚变,面临财产分割问题

2014-09-01    来源:chinadaily    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

Billionaire is trying to avoid the biggest divorce payout ever

据《每日邮报》报道,哈姆是大陆资源公司(Continental Resources CLR)的创始人兼CEO,福布斯富豪榜上第34位,个人资产达203亿美元(约1251亿元)。这位美国石油大王与结婚25年的妻子苏安(SueAnn)离婚案已经 到了第二周,专家称,分给苏安一半财产很可能使哈罗德失去大陆资源控制权,避免这种情况发生的唯一办法就是石油大王用所有财富都是纯粹靠狗屎运得来的来辩护。

Harold Hamm is an unlikely billionaire: the 13th child of Oklahoma sharecroppers whose identity as a self-made man could just be his downfall in his impending divorce battle.

Hamm, the founder and CEO of Continental Resources, is the world's 34th-richest person in the world, with a personal fortune of an estimated $20.3 billion.

The oilman is in the second week of a divorce hearing from his wife of 25 years, Sue Ann, and experts say the only way he can avoid paying half of his assets - and possibly losing a controlling share of his company - is to argue that his fortune is the result of sheer dumb luck.

The amount divisible in the divorce settlement is $17 billion.

Legally, if Hamm can prove that the appreciation of the marital assets was passive, rather than an active attempt by him to increase his wealth, then they will remain his property.

'You have a piece of vacant land before you get married, a separate property. If you do nothing about it and by passive acts it increases [in value], for instance they build a railroad next door or a road, fine, it’s passive,' prominent New York divorce attorney Raoul Felder told Yahoo Finance.

'But if you make a victory garden on there or you build a house, it’s now active.'

In essence, for Hamm to keep the $17 billion in question, he would have to contradict the popular image of himself that he has projected for decades as an astute businessman and innovator and instead say he simply got lucky.

The analysis of Kenneth Button, an expert witness hired by Hamm's wife Sue Ann, was laid out in court testimony and in a document provided to Reuters by Oklahoma County Judge Howard Haralson. It is one of the first pieces of financial testimony to be released from the trial, which has been conducted mostly in secrecy.

Unusually for a divorce case, Haralson has barred the public from the courtroom on most days and sealed most of the evidence. He says he is trying to protect shareholders in Hamm's Continental Resources from the release of confidential business information.

Through his 68 percent stake in Continental, a leading driller in North Dakota, Harold Hamm is believed to own the most oil in the ground of any American.

The family also worked to keep word of the divorce from going public. The case was originally titled Jane Doe vs. John Doe when Sue Ann filed the suit in 2012, alleging that her husband was unfaithful. The identity of the parties was only discovered in March of 2013.

The couple was married in 1988 and has two daughters, Jane and Hillary, from the marriage. The family split its time between four homes, including a two-mansion family enclave in Nichols Hills, Oklahoma, with its own combination basketball and tennis court, which the couple bought in 2009. Harold Hamm also has three children from a marriage that ended in divorce in 1987.

Behind closed doors, the case has had its own sensationalistic highlights. Sue Ann went through the trouble of installing surveillance equipment in the home beginning in 2007, according to court documents. One bill alone was to the tune of $9,866.09. Lawyers for Harold are demanding the 'home video or audio recordings' be turned over, in an attempt to show their separation effectively occurred before 2012.

The recently introduced document, a trial exhibit marked 'confidential business information,' is a 122-page report compiled by Button, a PhD economist. Haralson released the report after determining it isn’t subject to the protective order he has placed in the case.

Button's report contends that up to $15 billion of the growth in Continental's market capitalization during the period he studied is 'active' marital capital, or subject to division between the spouses. Button crunched data from the years between the couple’s 1988 wedding and February 2014.

Since then, Continental's value has grown by nearly $4 billion more, adding to the wealth the court may divide, Button said in court earlier in August. About $2.6 billion of that appreciation would accrue to Harold through his 68 per cent stake in Continental.

All told, Button's analysis suggests that the marital capital subject to division could add up to some $17.6 billion.

If Judge Haralson accepts Button's reasoning and awards Sue Ann a significant share of the marital estate, the Hamm split could yield the largest divorce settlement ever. If Hamm has to sell Continental shares to finance a large settlement, his control of the company could be eroded.

Attorneys for Harold Hamm and for Continental didn't respond to questions from Reuters. Harold's witnesses will testify later in the trial, which began last week and is expected to end in October.

What caused Continental's increase in value is critical to the outcome. Under Oklahoma law, any increase in the Hamms' net worth resulting from the active efforts of either spouse during the marriage is considered part of the marital estate.

The dubious distinction of most expensive divorce settlement goes to Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev, who forked over $4.5 billion to his ex-wife Elena after their divorce concluded this year.

The marriage of Elena and Dmitry, both 47, had soured recently, leading into a years-long divorce proceeding.

'He was not very subtle with his infidelities,' Elena's lawyer David Newman told the Daily News of Dmitry.

The business magnate, nicknamed the 'fertilizer king,' was valued around $8.8 billion.

During the divorce, he unloaded cash on various properties, including a share in French soccer club AS Monaco, two islands belonging to Aristotle Onassis and a $88 million apartment overlooking Central Park for his then-college-age daughter.

Rybolovlev also reportedly had the opportunity to save himself some money.
A $1 billion settlement deal was offered by Elena shortly before the court's decision that was nixed by a lawyer for Dmitry's trust.

The divorce was first filed in 2008, when Elena said she had finally had enough with her husband's unfaithfulness. In documents submitted to the court, Elena described wild yacht parties where Dmitry shared 'young conquests with his friends, and other oligarchs.'

Continental's impressive growth itself isn't in dispute. According to Button's report, the Oklahoma-based driller was valued at between $10 million and $50 million when the couple wed in 1988. It is now worth around $27 billion.

Sue Ann Hamm's legal team contends that this growth resulted largely from the active leadership and astute decision-making of Harold. He is widely credited as a pioneer in developing the Bakken Shale formation of North Dakota, America's largest oil discovery in decades.

Harold's attorneys will try to show that Continental's growth resulted mostly from factors beyond his control. They signaled this strategy in their cross-examination of Button, pressing the economist to consider that external forces, such as higher oil prices and new drilling technologies, were decisive factors in Continental’s success.

Button is trying to undercut Harold's position by comparing Continental's spectacular growth with that of rivals. The margin by which Continental's financial returns outpaced those of similar oil and gas companies should be considered Continental's 'active' appreciation, the Button report says.
It compares Continental's financial returns to those of 76 other publicly traded US independent drillers.


Continental and these 'peer companies,' the report says, faced similar risks, opportunities and market conditions - such as fluctuating oil prices, choices among technologies and drilling locations, and methods to raise and deploy capital.

Continental's return on investment was at least 44,271 percent during the Hamm marriage, Button wrote. The average return among peers - extrapolated over the same period - was a relatively modest 691 percent, the report says.

Continental's outsize returns compared to its competitors are 'likely the results of difference over time in the specific operational decisions and actions of the management of these companies.'

Hamm founded Continental in 1967, two decades before his marriage to Sue Ann, a former attorney at the company.

Continental has said the divorce is a private matter that hasn't affected the business and isn't expected to. At the same time, Continental attorneys have submitted hundreds of thousands of pages of documents in the trial in support of Harold. They also have repeatedly persuaded the judge to seal evidence and close the courtroom to avoid damaging Continental's interests.

相关内容

离婚财产协议中可分割的财产是170亿美元(约1048亿元)。

法律上,如果哈姆有证据证明婚姻资产的增值是被动的,不是自己主动挣得的,那么他的财产将不会被分割。

纽约著名离婚律师拉乌尔·菲尔德告诉雅虎财经称,“在你结婚之前你有一块空地,这是你的独立资产。你什么都没做,因被动行为(比如在空地周围修建了铁路或者公路,这些是被动的)它增值了,那么离婚时这份财产不会被分割。”

“不过,如果你主动建了一个花园或是在空地上盖了房子,那么这笔钱就是“有效”的。这份财产离婚时要进行分割。”

实质上,且不论哈姆能不能一分不差得到这170亿美元,哈姆给公众的形象是一名白手起家的精明商人和创新者,如果他承认自己几十年来全凭运气致富,他的形象将大打折扣。
哈姆的妻子苏安雇了一位专家证人,在法庭上提交了肯尼斯·巴顿的一份分析报告,俄克拉荷马州法官霍华德·哈拉尔森(Howard Haralson)将这份报告提供给了路透社。

这是第一次金融审判证词公布于众,大部分情况下证词都是保密的。

这件离婚案比较特殊,多数情况下,法官哈拉尔森并不允许法庭公开,大部分证据也被密封存档。哈拉尔森称此举是为了保护哈姆在大陆资源的商业机密。

凭借持有大陆资源的68%的股份,以及美国北达科他州的主要石油开采商的身份,哈罗德·哈姆成为公认的拥有美国大部分石油的人。

哈姆一家此前努力不让离婚消息公布于众。苏安曾对哈姆提出诉讼,指控丈夫有外遇,但当时两人并未使用真名立案,直到2003年3月,该案当事人身份才被曝光。

这对夫妇于1988年结婚,当时已有两个女儿,简(Jane)和希拉里(Hillary)。共有四项房产,包括尼克尔斯山的豪宅,以及09年购买的自带篮球网球场的俄克拉荷马州的一处房产。

在此桩离婚案的背后,也有许多不为人知的细节。据法庭文件显示,2007年起苏安在家中安装了监控设备,哈姆的律师为了向法庭证实双方在2012年以前已经分居,要求苏安上交“家庭录像或录音”。

最近公布的文件报告,也被法庭命为机密文件,是由经济学博士巴顿写的长达122页的报告。哈拉尔森认为这份报告在此案件中不是受保护的文件,后将其公开。

巴顿的报告认为,在他研究期间,大陆资源资本增长中有150亿美元是“有效”婚姻资产,或者说是包含在夫妻分割财产中的。巴顿研究的数据范围是1988这对夫妻婚礼开始到2014年2月份。

巴顿8月份在法庭上称,从结婚开始,大陆资源价值增长了近40亿美元,并称这比财产也应分割。其中增值的26亿美元也使得哈罗德·哈姆拥有了68%的股份。

总而言之,巴顿的分析表明,可分割的婚姻资产可以增加到176亿美元。

如果法官哈拉尔森同意巴顿的分析,那么哈姆将支付历来最贵的离婚分手费。如果哈姆将其大陆资源的股份出售已支付分手费,哈姆在大陆公司的控制权将大大受损。

哈罗德·哈姆的律师也是大陆资源的律师并未回答路透社提的任何问题。哈姆的证人之后将出席法庭。此次审判预计在10月份结束。

到底是什么导致了大陆资源价值的增长是本案的关键。因为俄克拉荷马州法律规定,夫妻双方主动挣得的净资产都将视为婚姻财产的一部分。

引人注目的并不是大陆资源的价值增长,巴顿在报告中指出1988年这对夫妻结婚时,在俄克拉荷马州的钻床价值1000-5000万美元。现在价值270亿美元。

苏安的法律团队认为,这种价值增长很大程度上因为哈姆的领导和精明决策。哈姆是北达科他州巴肯页岩(几十年来美国最大的石油发现)的先驱。

而哈姆的律师试图表明大陆资源的增长主要源于一些他无法控制的因素。他们向巴顿提出质疑,让巴顿考虑外部力量比如:石油价格上涨、新的钻井技术。这些也是大陆资源成功的必要条件。

巴顿将哈姆与其他竞争对手比较分析,以此来反驳哈姆。巴顿报告称,大陆资源金融回报的利润远远超过了类似的石油和天然气公司,因此大陆资源可以视作主动认为的增值。
报告还比较了其他76个公开交易的美国独立钻油业务。

大陆资源和这些“同行公司”面临相同的风险,机会和市场条件,如油价波动、技术、钻井位置、钻井方法、筹集部署资金。

该报告称,大陆资源的投资汇报远远超过其他同行公司。

大陆资源的高额回报和其竞争对手相比“可能差距在于具体的运营策略和行动,以及公司的管理方面。”

哈姆在1967年也正是和苏安结婚前20年,创立了大陆资源。

大陆资源发表声明称,离婚时哈姆个人的事情,并没有也不会影响到公司业务。与此同时,大陆资源的律师们也为哈姆提供了成千上万页文件,以支持哈姆。他们也一再说服法官禁止法庭公开,密存各项证据,以避免损坏大陆资源的利益。

至今为止世界上最贵的离婚案是俄罗斯的寡头资本家德米特里(DmitryRybolovlev),年初他给了前妻45亿美元的分手费。德米特里和埃琳娜(Elena)的婚姻经过长达一年的离婚诉讼后正式破裂。

商业巨头。绰号“肥料王”的德米特里身价88亿美元。

离婚期间,德米特里分割了各项资产,包括法国足球俱乐部,亚里士多德·奥纳西斯(Aristotle Onassis)的两个岛屿,价值8800万美元俯瞰中央公园的公寓给了女儿。
德米特里称自己也曾有不分割财产的机会。

埃琳娜曾向法庭提出和解协议,只要德米特里支付10亿美元的和解费,然而德米特里的律师并没有相信埃琳娜会这么做。

2008年,埃琳娜以再也忍受不了丈夫不忠为由提出离婚。并向法庭提交一份德米特里与朋友,其他寡头在野生游艇上聚会的材料。


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