Bartlett, Tulsa chamber comment on Williams Co.

Posted at 6:03 PM, Mar 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-24 06:45:15-04

TULSA – A potential new merger could significantly reduce one prominent energy company’s operations in Tulsa and even Oklahoma City.

A Dallas-based Energy Transfer Corporation, LP filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission to merge with Tulsa-based Williams Companies, Inc.

In the filing, the merger proposal would reduce operations in Tulsa and Oklahoma City significantly.

The Williams Company board of directors already approved the merger agreement in September 2015. Now, they are waiting for the shareholders to approve the merger.

According to documents, the board of directors have recommend the shareholders approve the merger.

As of Thursday, no specific date has been set for the shareholders to officially vote on the merger. 

Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, sent a statement saying, “Today’s SEC filing by Energy Transfer Equity will be devastating to the entire state of Oklahoma, including both the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metro regions if a substantial presence of jobs are not kept in Oklahoma. Portions of today’s filing are completely opposite of previous public commitments made by ETE, namely the November 24 SEC filing where ETE maintained the Williams Partners LP headquarters would retain its name, with a meaningful ongoing presence in Tulsa upon the completion of the merger. The WMB Board actually cited (in the original S4 filing) that keeping Tulsa as the headquarters and/or large presence as one of the reasons for recommending the merger. We are concerned this filing might represent a material change to the original intent and consequently a departure from the original intent the WMB Board agreed upon in September 2015. As a Chamber of Commerce, working toward the economic success of northeast Oklahoma businesses, employees and citizens, we encourage the WMB Board to revisit the merger terms. Williams has a long, 100-year history headquartered in Tulsa, and is one of the region’s most successful corporate citizens. The loss of these wonderfully talented, and extremely valuable employees would be devastating to our regional economy and the many families employed by Williams. As a regional Chamber representing thousands of companies and employees in northeast Oklahoma, we urge the citizens of Oklahoma to join with us in providing strong support and encouragement to all Williams employees throughout the state.”

Mayor Dewey Bartlett sent a statement as well saying, "“I am stunned by this news of how ETE intends to effectively decimate the presence of Williams Partners LP in the city and region of Tulsa. The filing today with the SEC was completely contrary to ETE’s original statements that the company, its name, and a meaningful ongoing existence would continue in Tulsa. Williams is a rock of this community – a cornerstone. Its 100 year existence in Tulsa has weathered enormously difficult and explosively successful times in this city. Without its presence, our downtown would not be achieving such a renaissance for our community. The SEC filing today flies in the face of ETE’s expressed intentions and is the equivalent to cracking this rock into small pieces of gravel.If this merger continues to move forward on the premise reported today, I am urging the public to make it known to those at Williams and ETE that the City of Tulsa is not taking this news lightly. We support the incredible talent of the hard working employees of Williams and we’ll do everything we can to change the tenor of ETE’s new position. Shoulder to shoulder and arm in arm, this community will not accept the dismantling of this fine company that has always stood responsibly with its home town.Williams is a world leader in the energy industry by harnessing talent and experience here in Tulsa. The best future for Williams and its employees is to remain rooted right here.”

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