SemGroup Fires Tom Kivisto

Monday, October 27th 2008, 3:37 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- He was at the helm when SemGroup went under.  Now he's out of a job.  SemGroup's management committee has fired former CEO Tom Kivisto.  Despite SemGroup's demise, Tom Kivisto has stayed on the payroll, officially on administrative leave.  That all ended on Friday.

Eight years ago, Tom Kivisto co-founded what would become one of Tulsa's premier energy giants.  And, when that giant began to crumble, Kivisto shouldered much of the blame.  Rumblings of the company's demise hit Wall Street in mid-July.  Shares of the company lost half of their value on July 17th.

The next day, Tom Kivisto was replaced as CEO and put on paid administrative leave.  But, the stock market slide was just the beginning.

On July 22nd, SemGroup went from teetering on the brink of bankruptcy to filing for Chapter 11.  It was revealed the company lost billions of dollars hedging on oil futures.  In the days after its demise, the SemGroup co-founder couldn't be found.

His company was slapped with a class action lawsuit by investors.  But, it would be days later before Kivisto would speak out.

"I trust, however, as the facts and the truths surrounding this chain of events are revealed, the SemGroup employees will regain their trust in what they initially believed," said former SemGroup CEO Tom Kivisto.

Bankruptcy proceedings revealed Kivisto's personal trading company borrowed several hundred million dollars from SemGroup.  And, allegations of improper trading began to surface.

In August, almost three weeks after the company filed for bankruptcy, SemGroup laid off more than 100 Tulsa workers.

While employees carried boxes to their car, Tom Kivisto was still collecting a paycheck.  In fact, documents filed in bankruptcy court revealed, the former CEO was given $42 million in the year before the company went under.

Kivisto's attorney says SemGroup's management committee has not accepted his client's advice, since July.  He says the letter terminating Kivisto did not give a reason.