When business planning unravels at a high level: one tale

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2016 | Business Formation & Planning |

A number of board directors wanted the company to go in a specific direction.

Conversely, just about an equal number espoused another position. The two groups wrangled for months, jockeying for power.

And when the veritable smoke cleared recently, six of the directors resigned.

That spells the shorthand version of events that played out for months behind the scenes at giant energy entity Williams Companies, which is a mainstay in the natural gas pipeline business.

As noted in a recent Bloomberg business article, things have been a bit turbulent inside the cloistered environment of the board of directors at Williams recently.

Reportedly, a number of the company’s board members came to Williams as principals of other companies and with the intent to materially shake things up at the company. As described by Bloomberg, one of their central goals was to drive Williams in the direction of so-called “strategic combinations” with other groups.

That means merger, with one group specifically — Energy Transfer Equity LP — being actively involved in a $33 billion takeover attempt of Williams.

Ultimately, that didn’t happen, and the failed deal openly revealed fundamental fissures in the board room.

The directors who ultimately resigned were opposed by an equal number of their peers, along with Williams’ chief executive officer. The internal dissension soon became additionally marked by the activist directors’ strategy to oust the CEO.

That too, failed, and its wake brought the announcement of the mass departures from the board.

“It’s a victory for shareholders,” said one outside commentator and money manager. He stated that the resignations conveyed to company investors that Williams principals were not unduly focused “on trying to make a quick profit in an M&A deal.”

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