Williams CFO Don Chappel leaves

  • Signs for push-out forces
  • After almost 14 years on the job
  • Search for a successor

(exechange) — Tulsa, Oklahoma, March 09, 2017 — Don Chappel, finance chief of Williams, leaves. As announced by The Williams Companies, Inc. in a regulatory filing published on Thursday, March 09, 2017, Donald R. (Don) Chappel, Chief Financial Officer, leaves the energy company after almost 14 years on the job, effective late 2017.

It is the end of an era.

On March 9, 2017, The Williams Companies, Inc. (“Williams”) and Donald R. Chappel, its Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, determined a plan for Chappel to retire from Williams, targeting late 2017.

Williams will undertake a search for a successor.

No reason given

In the announcement, Williams did not explicitly explain the reason for Chappel’s move, leaving room for speculation.

Precise information about the future plans of Chappel was not immediately available.

When Chappel retires from Williams, he will also resign as a Director and Chief Financial Officer of WPZ GP LLC (the “General Partner”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Williams and the general partner of Williams Partners L.P. (the “Partnership”).

“Not due to any disagreement”

“Mr. Chappel’s retirement is not due to any disagreement with Williams, the General Partner, or the Partnership,” Williams said.

It is a phrase that may be intended to prevent false rumors. It may also fuel further speculation and raise more questions than it answers. Such a phrase should be read very carefully. The exact wording may be insightful.

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of The Williams Companies, Inc. since July 2015.

Chaired by Kathleen B. Cooper

The Williams Companies, Inc. is chaired by Kathleen B. Cooper.

She has been the Chairman of The Williams Companies, Inc. since July 1, 2016 and has been its Independent Director since September 2006.

CEO: Alan S. Armstrong

Alan S. Armstrong serves as CEO of The Williams Companies, Inc. Alan Armstrong became president and chief executive officer of Williams in January 2011.

On the job as CFO since 2003

Chappel joined Williams (NYSE: WMB) in April 2003 as senior vice president and chief financial officer.

Chappel has also served as CFO and as a member of the Board of Directors of Williams Partners (NYSE: WPZ) since its formation in 2006.

Additionally, Chappel served as a member of the Board of Directors of Access Midstream Partners (NYSE: ACMP) from 2012 through February 2015 when Access merged with Williams Partners.

Chappel was a key member of the executive team that led Williams’ successful financial turnaround, repositioning and substantial growth.

During his tenure as CFO, Williams’ equity valuation increased ten-fold to about $27 billion and its enterprise value increased to about $51 billion (as of November 2015).

Chappel has worked closely with leaders and management of major infrastructure and private equity funds to successfully achieve mutually beneficial financial results.

In 2010, Chappel joined the board of directors of Supervalu (NYSE: SVU), a major grocery wholesaler and retailer with about $17 billion in annual revenue and he serves on the board’s Audit Committee as well as its Leadership Development & Compensation Committee.

Chappel previously chaired SVU’s Finance Committee and served on its Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee.

Supervalu successfully completed an operational and financial turnaround which involved top management changes and value-adding deals with a major private equity firm.

Supervalu is currently studying a possible spin-off of one of its businesses.

Chappel’s previous experience includes serving twice in the period 1997-2000 as chief financial officer of Waste Management, Inc.

Chappel is credited with successfully leading the company through a financial crisis including a significant restatement of previously issued financial statements, a related SEC investigation and litigation.

Following the 1998 merger with USA Waste Services, Chappel moved into a new role as senior vice president of operations and administration, leading certain corporate functions as well as a portfolio of operations that were successfully divested.

Chappel was later re-appointed as CFO by the new board during another time of crisis, which resulted from a failed merger integration and related problems.

The turnaround was again successful, with Chappel laying the foundation for excellence in finance.

Prior to Waste Management, Chappel served in financial leadership roles at Beatrice Companies, Inc., Esmark, Inc. and Arthur Andersen & Company.

Chappel graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting.

He completed his certification as a public accountant (CPA).

Chappel serves on the board of directors for Family and Children’s Services of Tulsa and The Children’s Hospital Foundation at Saint Francis.

In 2015 — for the tenth time in eleven years — Don Chappel was named to Institutional Investor magazine’s Top CFO List in the Energy/Natural Gas/MLP sector.

Institutional Investor surveys investment professionals across numerous industries to choose the top-performing CFOs in their respective areas.

In 2014, Williams received a Platts Global Energy Award for Deal of the Year and received an International Financing Review award for Equity Deal of the Year.

Unplanned

Generally speaking, when a top leader announces to step aside with no successor available, it’s a sign that the change was unplanned and too early.

Signs for push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Don Chappel’s move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the management change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 11.2017 ($).