Pension Fund Asking for Delay of Oklahoma City-Based Continental Resources Vote

Article excerpt

A Louisiana pension fund that is suing Continental Resources Inc. over its pending purchase of an oil company mostly owned by Continental CEO Harold Hamm is asking a federal judge to postpone an upcoming shareholder vote on the deal.

The Louisiana Municipal Police Employees Retirement System is seeking a court order to hold up a shareholder meeting on the pending deal scheduled for Aug. 10.

In court filings, the pension fund argues that shareholders haven't been given enough information on whether the company is getting a fair deal in its purchase of Wheatland Oil Inc.

Hamm owns a 75-percent stake in Wheatland, while Jeff Hume, Continental Resources vice chairman of strategic growth initiatives, controls the remaining 25 percent. The private company holds both executives' interests from Continental wells as part of a 10-year well participation plan that expired in January. Wheatland owns 5 to 10 percent of Continental's oil and gas wells. Continental adopted the participation program before it went public in 2007 and needed a way to help finance drilling in North Dakota's then-unproven Bakken Shale, the company said in regulatory filings.

The pension fund argues that the $340 million in new stock that Continental is paying for Wheatland's assets is too much. The acquisition would see an estimated $240 million windfall for Hamm and Hume, the pension fund argues in its complaint.

"I think the heart of our argument is that shareholders don't have a host of material facts they would need to make an informed and reasonable decision to approve this transaction," said Jason Cowart, an attorney representing the Louisiana Municipal Police Employees Retirement System.

In court documents, the pension fund argues that Continental rushed to schedule a vote on acquiring Wheatland before shareholders could obtain enough information. Because Wheatland is a private company run by Hume, the plaintiffs are seeking details about Wheatland revenues, exploration expenses, and other potential tax losses or tax credits. …


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