Risk & Compliance

Williams to Pay $290 Million in Settlement

Shareholder alleged that the company failed to adequately disclose a guarantee of debt to a subsidiary that eventually was spun off.
Stephen TaubJune 13, 2006

Energy company Williams agreed to pay $290 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by shareholders who bought stock between July 2000 and July 2002.

The company will pay between $145 million and $220 million, while the balance will be funded by its insurers.

The shareholder plaintiffs had alleged that Williams failed to adequately disclose material information regarding obligations to Williams Communications, a subsidiary that operated a fiber-optic network. The parent company guaranteed some of the debt of the subsidiary, which was eventually spun off entirely.

In addition, shareholders maintained that Williams failed to properly characterize its earnings from energy marketing and trading.

In a statement, Williams asserted that it agreed to settle the suit in part so it could move forward with its growth plans. The company also stressed that it did not admit any liability by the company, its directors or officers, and that there were no findings of any violation of federal securities laws.

Williams and the plaintiff intend to file the settlement agreement for approval by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, according to the Associated Press. The AP added that a separate lawsuit, filed by shareholders of the Williams Communications subsidiary, is still pending before that court.