Fancy a Cheque for a Billion Dollars

Published: Jan 08 , 2015
Author: Alan Smith


I love Christmas, but I hate paying for it.

Sadly as a father of 5, Christmas, whilst being a wonderful time is also a very expensive one. I am sure like everyone else I also get excited in the run up to the event and am seduced by those people in marketing (God bless them) to spend more than I want to on things no-one needs, to impress them and convince them that under this crusty exterior I am a nice bloke after all.

Then January arrives. The bank account looks rather bare and the next pay packet alarmingly distant.

Leafing through the papers I then discover that a woman in the US has refused a settlement of $1 billion as part of a divorce from her ridiculously wealthy husband. What on earth is going on?

If you don’t know the story it is quite simple. Man marries woman. Business takes off and 26 years later they decide to divorce. The story of many these days in the cut and thrust of modern life. Sadly many people seem to get through the early and extremely busy years of marriage then wake up with a stranger and think blimey is this what I am stuck with for the rest of my life and run for the hills. 

The difference in this case is that the husband had created a wealth platform of supposedly $18 billion. The couple in question is the Hamm’s, and Harold Hamm is the current CEO of Continental Resource a pretty big deal in the oil industry and the divorce is happening as we speak in Oklahoma.

Apparently Mr. Hamm sent a personal cheque to Miss Ann Arnell (her maiden name) for a shade under $1 billion (difficult to spend all of that in 20 lifetimes let alone the miserly 1 we all contend with).

The cheque was returned un-cashed. Miss Arnell says it is not enough by a long shot. If I were Miss Arnell I would take that cheque and cash it in while it’s still redeemable. Oil price just fell below $50 a barrel.

Divorce creates all kinds of emotions, most of them unpleasant, and it seems to me that for many it becomes an issue of winning rather than what could be seen as equitable, fair or reasonable.

If that becomes the driving force then the biggest winner may be the lawyers. Now I am not suggesting that the wife should accept a lower figure than she is owed but maybe the way for her to be the winner would be to take the billion and live a happy and fulfilled life putting much of it into others and charitable work.

Sometimes in a negotiation we become utterly focused on the win and lose sight of what constitutes a good deal for us. Effective planning and preparation can help prevent that and allow us to focus.

Just a thought.

A very happy and hopefully prosperous New Year to you all.

Alan Smith

photo credit: Matt From London via photopin cc


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Alan Smith

About the author:

Alan Smith
My background is marketing and advertising. After graduating in Economics I entered the agency world to become, at 28, MD of London's largest independent below-the-line marketing provider.

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Who is Going to Pick the Fruit?

It’s amazing how many people go into negotiations with no clear idea about their bottom line. “We’ll see how it goes,” seems to be the rather naïve thought and of course they leave themselves open to the risk of a really poor and unprofitable deal at the end of it. It is empowering to know your bottom line, especially when you have internal agreement at senior level. Think about it: the other side are aggressively demanding that you improve your terms, but you know that what they are asking for is beyond your bottom line.

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