Merger Papers Reveal Company Buying Williams Moving HQ To Texas

Wednesday, March 23rd 2016, 11:09 pm

The company buying Tulsa-based Williams put down in writing what Tulsa's leaders feared most; the headquarters is moving to Dallas and the staff is getting out.

The company filed paperwork Wednesday that says practically all of the Williams jobs will either go to Texas, or be eliminated to save money.

Professor Tom Seng at Tulsa University said the filing makes it clear that Energy Transfer plans to cut most of the Tulsa jobs at Williams.

"That's devastating for the energy business in Tulsa. I hope it's not devastating for Tulsa, but it's certainly not a good thing," he said.

Williams still employs almost 1,000 Tulsans but their merger partner now makes it clear the intention is to move most of the operation.

9/28/2015 Related Story: Tulsa's Williams Companies Announces Billion-Dollar Buyout Deal

In filings for the government, Energy Transfer says the plan is to consolidate corporate offices in Dallas, with staff in Tulsa and Oklahoma City significantly reduced or potentially eliminated.

Williams employs 6,700 people nationwide, many in Houston and other hubs along their pipelines.

Williams reaffirmed Wednesday the intention to go ahead with the merger, despite changing economics that some analysts believe could jeopardize the deal.

2/1/2016 Related Story: Former Williams CEO Believes Merger Is Bad For Company, Tulsa

But, Tulsa Chamber President Mike Neal said the job losses "will be devastating to the entire state of Oklahoma" and was "completely opposite of previous public commitments made by ETE" that Williams would have "a meaningful ongoing presence in Tulsa."

Seng said Williams was so established that there was a good chance Williams would survive the merger.

"They'll have a merger and look for some potential inefficiencies and duplication of effort but they would largely leave them alone and let them operate out of the BOK Tower, and obviously that's not happening," Seng said.

The big question is if all of Williams leaves Tulsa, what happens to the real estate? It will create a lot of empty office space downtown.