Chairman, president, and chief executive officer, Williams Companies
Born: September 1948, in St. Louis, Missouri.
Education: University of Missouri, Rolla, BA, 1970.
Family: Married Gwen (maiden name unknown); children: one.
Career: Cities Gas Company, ?–1984, refining, marketing, and transportation services; Williams Companies, 1984–1986, director of business development, Williams Natural Gas Company; 1986–1989, director of gas management, Williams Natural Gas Company; 1989–1993, vice president of gas management and supply; 1993–1994, senior vice president and general manager of the midcontinent region, Williams Field Services; 1994–1996, senior vice president and general manager of gathering and processing, Williams Field Services; 1996–1998, senior vice president and general manager, Midstream Gas and Liquids; 1998–2001, president and chief executive officer, Williams Energy Services; 2001–2002, president and chief operating officer; 2002–, chairman, president, and chief executive officer.
Address: The Williams Companies, One Williams Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74172; http://www.williams.com.
■ As the chief executive officer of the Williams Companies, Steven J. Malcolm sought to give the company a new profile, as an integrated natural gas company that was streamlined and simplified. He envisioned a smaller, more profitable company with fewer lines of business. Although he was pleased with his company's progress, he said at the 2004 annual meeting: "We're proud of where we are today, but getting here has not been easy." He noted further that he had been compelled to make some difficult decisions to restore the financial standing that had long been associated with Williams. "We are working to expand on the progress we've made over the last two years in reducing our cost structure and the size of our organization to reflect Williams' smaller, less complex base of businesses," he added (press release, May 20, 2004).
Malcolm joined Williams in 1984 as director of business development for Williams Natural Gas Company after working at Cities Gas Company in refining, marketing, and transportation services. He served as the company's vice president of gas management and supply and had been director of gas management services. He then served as senior vice president and general manager of the midcontinent region for Williams Field Services. In 1996 Malcolm was named senior vice president and general manager of Midstream Gas and Liquids for Williams Energy Services, and in 1998 he became president and CEO of Williams Energy Services. Continuing to move up the corporate ladder in a difficult and volatile business, Malcolm was named chairman of Williams in May 2002, having been appointed CEO the previous January.
Throughout his career with Williams, Malcolm saw the advantages of streamlining the company to concentrate on its core natural gas business as the main source for profitability and generating cash flow. The Oklahoma-based Williams Companies moves, manages, and markets a variety of energy products, including natural gas, liquid hydrocarbons, petroleum, and electricity. Financial results, say stock-market analysts, can fluctuate, reflecting lower sales of natural gas and crude and refined oil. Malcolm emphasized that the company was being managed differently to fit a different business environment. His strategy was to build liquidity and cut costs, to generate cash by selling assets that did not fit into his new and sharply defined business focus.
In the 2004 annual meeting Malcolm said that Williams was in a much stronger financial position than it had been a year earlier: "2003 was a year in which we focused almost exclusively on executing our multi-year plan, designed to rebuild our financial strength and take advantage of our best common capabilities." The company, he noted, has sold more than $6.5 billion in assets, and refocused "our operations around a core of world-class natural gas assets" (Williams). More importantly, he added, the company had reduced total long-term debt by $2.7 billion.
This progress, added Malcolm, had not gone unnoticed, as the company's stock and bond prices had moved significantly higher. "Some have suggested that we are the turnaround story of our sector," he said, adding that the higher stock price reflected "the market's acceptance and confidence in, both our restructuring and our plans for the future" (Williams).
Malcolm was particularly optimistic about Williams's exploration and production (E&P) business. Even among the company's peers, he said, Williams's E&P business was unique, thanks to its extraordinary reserves and production expertise. The company's production continued to grow, and it had a 10-year window of opportunity as well as about 9 to 10 years of potential natural gas finds in the Powder River Basin area. Malcolm said the company would continue to allocate the lion's share of its capital expenditures to developing production of natural gas within this area, which he said would generate an attractive return on capital. That focus, however, did not indicate a shortage of growth possibilities in other business areas of the company, he added.
Malcolm said that he was excited about the performance of Williams's midstream business, which had recently completed and put into service a major platform in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Midstream business includes the gathering of natural gas and its transportation and storage—in other words, every step in the process leading to actual delivery of the final product. The Gulf of Mexico was providing the greatest growth potential, perhaps surpassing the projected volumes of all other projects. Besides the growth in offshore operations, Malcolm predicted that Williams would maintain a strong position in onshore projects. In Wyoming, for example, he noted that Williams produced 50 percent of the natural gas derived from the state.
In reviewing the company's financial picture, Malcolm saw a continued improvement in its debt status as being tremendously important to the company's restructuring. He felt strongly that despite some tough times, Williams was "a company that's back on track" (Williams). In addition to his duties with Williams, Malcolm served on the boards of the Tulsa Area United Way, Tulsa Community Foundation, YMCA, and St. John Medical Center, and the University of Tulsa board of trustees.
See also entry on Williams Companies, Inc. in International Directory of Company Histories .
"CEO Says Williams Energy Services Is One of the Top 25
Independent E&P Companies Today," Wall Street Transcript , March 1, 2001.
"Chairman Reviews Williams' Financial Progress at Annual
Meeting," press release, May 20, 2004, http://www.williams.com/newsmedia/2004/20040520_595.htm .
Inc. Staff Icon Group International, Williams Companies, Inc. (The): International Competitive Benchmarks and Financial Gap Analysis , San Diego, Calif.: Icon Group International, October 2000.
"Williams Companies, Inc.," http://premium.hoovers.com/subscribe/co/people/bio.xhtml?COID=11638&&PID=12879043 .
—Stephen H. Collins