Williams Cos. (WMB) Announces Update on Board Refreshment Plan
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The Williams Companies, Inc. (NYSE: WMB), after conferring with stockholders, continuing to search for qualified directors and deliberating on the expertise and experience required for the Board of Directors, announced the next step in its Board refreshment plan. Under the plan, Stephen Chazen, former President and Chief Executive Officer and current Board director of Occidental Petroleum, and Peter Ragauss, former Chief Financial Officer of Baker Hughes and current Board director at Apache Corporation, have been appointed to the Williams Board of Directors, effective immediately. The Board also announced that three Williams directors who served prior to 2016 will not stand for re-election at the 2016 Annual Meeting.
Five new directors (i.e., directors who were not serving on the Board as of July 1, 2016), Stephen Bergstrom, Stephen Chazen, Peter Ragauss, Scott Sheffield and William Spence, in addition to four Williams directors who served prior to 2016, will stand for election as nominees of the Williams Board at the 2016 Annual Meeting. The Board also announced its goal to identify two additional highly qualified candidates to join the Board prior to the 2016 Annual Meeting. If the nominees are elected, the Williams Board will comprise 11 directors, 10 of whom are independent.
The Board also today announced that it has reconstituted its Nominating and Governance Committee. Stephen Bergstrom, Stephen Chazen and Dr. Kathleen B. Cooper have been appointed to the Committee with Mr. Bergstrom serving as Chairman, effective immediately. Consistent with past practices, the Nominating and Governance Committee will be responsible for identifying the two new independent director candidates prior to the 2016 Annual Meeting.
Dr. Kathleen B. Cooper, Chairman of the Williams Board of Directors, said: “As we have indicated, Williams is committed to maintaining a world-class Board of Directors. In less than two months, the Board has already appointed five new independent directors, and has set the goal of adding two additional directors. Our Nominating and Governance Committee will immediately work to identify two Board candidates who will add valuable and independent perspective.”
Dr. Cooper continued: “Steve Chazen brings significant expertise in the energy industry, having led the transformation of Occidental Petroleum into one of the top performing companies in the sector. Peter Ragauss also has broad experience, having helped Baker Hughes grow its powerful platform in the oilfield services industry. Williams is making good progress executing our strategy to connect the best natural gas supplies to the best markets. The entire Williams Board of Directors is committed to taking decisive action to create sustainable stockholder value and position Williams for continued success.”
Mr. Chazen and Mr. Ragauss stated: “We are excited about joining the Williams Board and look forward to putting our skills and experiences to work on behalf of all Williams stockholders. We will work closely with the other members of the Board to help set the Company’s strategy and advance the Company’s efforts to enhance value for Williams stockholders.”
As previously announced, the Company’s 2016 Annual Meeting will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016.
Mr. Chazen retired as Chief Executive Officer of Occidental Petroleum Corporation in April 2016, and has remained on Occidental’s Board of Directors where he has served since May 2010.
During his tenure as Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Chazen recommended and implemented the company's acquisition and divestiture strategy, which was a key factor in Occidental's transformation into a major oil and gas company. He previously served as President of Occidental Petroleum from 2007 to 2015; Chief Operating Officer from 2010 to 2011; and Chief Financial Officer from 2007 to 2010. Prior to being named President and Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Chazen was Chief Financial Officer and Senior Executive Vice President from 2004 to 2007, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President-Corporate Development from 1999 to 2004, and Executive Vice President-Corporate Development from 1994 to 1999.
Before joining Occidental, Mr. Chazen was a Managing Director in Corporate Finance and Mergers and Acquisitions at Merrill Lynch. Mr. Chazen is a former Chairman of the American Petroleum Institute and continues to serve on its board.
Mr. Chazen brings to the Williams Board decades of executive leadership experience in the oil and gas industry, as well as significant M&A and valuation expertise. In addition to his industry insight, he brings unique perspective in financial planning, securities and capital markets, strategic development and energy sector risk management.
Mr. Chazen holds a Ph.D. in Geology from Michigan State University, a master's degree in Finance from the University of Houston and a bachelor's degree in Geology from Rutgers College.
Mr. Ragauss retired from Baker Hughes in November 2014 after serving eight years as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He joined the Board of Directors of Apache Corporation in December 2014.
From 2003 to 2006, prior to joining Baker Hughes, Mr. Ragauss was controller, Refining and Marketing, for BP Plc. From 2000 to 2003, he was chief executive officer for Air BP. From 1998 to 2000, he was assistant to group chief executive for BP Amoco. He was vice president of Finance and Portfolio Management for Amoco Energy International when Amoco Corporation merged with BP in 1998.
Earlier in his career, from 1996 to 1998, Mr. Ragauss served as vice president of Finance for El Paso Energy International. He held positions of increasing responsibility at Tenneco Inc. from 1993 to 1996, and Kidder, Peabody & Co. Incorporated from 1987 to 1993.
Mr. Ragauss brings a wealth of accounting, financial and executive experience to the Williams Board, having held senior positions including chief executive officer, chief financial officer, controller and vice president of finance. His wide and varied experiences, including in the area of finance, provide him with a unique understanding of the oil and gas industry.
Mr. Ragauss holds a master’s degree from Harvard Business School and bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University.
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