Tulsa's Williams Companies Announces Billion-Dollar Buyout Deal

Monday, September 28th 2015, 1:35 pm
By: Emory Bryan

One of Tulsa’s largest employers announced a $37 billion buyout to a Dallas-based company Monday morning. It could mean Tulsa loses a lot of jobs.

Williams currently has 1,000 employees, and now they’re waiting to hear what's going to happen with their jobs.

Some seem likely to go - there's already word of synergies in the merger - but the company said it will keep some jobs here.

9/28/2015 Related Story: Williams Companies Bought By Energy Transfer Equity

It's one of the largest companies that has it's headquarters in Tulsa, but the merged company will be based in Dallas. That's significant for a company with roots here that run back to the earliest days of the oil industry.

The corporate headquarters of Williams Companies does more than dominate the Tulsa skyline; the company has 1,000 Tulsa employees and is a top civic contributor.

While the corporate headquarters is moving, it's unknown how many jobs will be lost when it's merged with Dallas-based Energy Transfer Equity. Williams is the 18th largest employer in the Tulsa area, with jobs and benefits that are far above average.

"Williams has been a critical part of this community, and Williams’ name has gone side by side Tulsa for decades," said Chamber President Mike Neal.

Neal said he can only speculate about what the impact will be, but there's a chance the merger could be a good thing if the combined company is stronger.

A company that came out of Williams - Williams Partners - will remain headquartered in Tulsa and Williams leadership says the combined company is stronger than before. That's gives local business leaders a little hope.

"Hopefully it's something that will be positive for all.  But if you're an employee of Williams or any company that merges, there's always uncertainty, but hopefully those concerns can be put to bed pretty quickly and we can move forward, and they can continue to grow as they have the last several years," said Neal.

The company said the announcement would have no immediate impact on employment and it was business as usual Monday.

In a letter to employees, Williams CEO Alan Armstrong said: "ETE recognizes Williams' historical presence in and dedication to the Tulsa community, and ETE will maintain a meaningful presence in Tulsa."

The $37 billion price-tag on Williams buys a pipeline network that covers North America and a workforce of 7,000 employees that keeps it going.

The combination of the ETE and Williams would make it one of the biggest energy companies in the world, but the headquarters of that company - and some of the jobs from Tulsa - will be in Dallas.

Neal said, "Any community loves their headquarters and values them - and headquarters are few and far between this day and age in corporate America - and you want to do everything you can to protect them."

Williams Companies news release

Leaders from both companies will be Tulsa Wednesday to meet with employees. The company said it expects the transaction to be final early next year.

The company's letter to employees.