For more on Williams Capital Group, please visit the Williams Capital Wiki.

Quick facts

Family:  Married to Janice Savin-Williams in 1987. The blog The Black Socialite labeled the Williamses as a “Super Socialite couple.” The couple has two children.

Age: 55

Residence: New York, NY

Refusal to address concerns of Walmart associates

Members of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) and their allies have repeatedly reached out to Christopher Williams for him to listen to their concerns. Mr. Williams has repeatedly ignored these requests. (See here for a detailed list of efforts by Walmart associates to have Christopher Williams listen to their concerns.)

Shareholders voicing concerns about Mr. Williams’s leadership at Walmart

Walmart shareholders have expressed concern about Williams’s leadership at the company. At Walmart’s 2013 shareholder meeting, more than 30 percent of non-Walton family shareholders voted against re-electing Christopher Williams to the company’s Board of Directors. Those voting no included the New York City Pension Funds and CalSTRS, both of which also voted against Williams in 2012. Two proxy advisers, ISS and Glass Lewis, both recommended voting against Williams’s re-election, and CalPERS, the nation’s largest pension fund, withheld its vote “due to concerns surrounding the Board’s oversight of operational and reputational risk.”

Wealth

Real estate

Williams and his wife live in a co-op on the Upper East Side of New York City that they purchased in 2004 for $3.4 million. Also in 2004, they sold a co-op unit they owned to JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon for $4.875 million.

Corporate pay

Williams was paid $387,976 in 2012 for serving on the Walmart Board of Directors — the most of any director. He also owns about $3.6 million of Walmart stock.[1]

Educational and professional background

Education

  • Howard University: Bachelor of Architecture
  • Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College: MBA

Professional life

The Williams Capital Group, L.P.: Founder and CEO (1994-present)

Williams Capital was started by Williams and his wife, Janice.[2] Williams Capital is “a full service broker-dealer, and provides equity, taxable and tax-exempt fixed income, corporate finance, and investment management services to institutional investor, corporate, and municipal clients.” Under the umbrella of the Williams Capital Group are Williams Capital Management, LLC, of which Christopher J. Williams in Founder and CEO, and Cordova, Smart & Williams, LLC, of which Christopher J. Williams is a founding partner. Cordova, Smart & Williams’s portfolio clients include Berkshire Blanket, Inc.; Eateries, Inc.; H2O Plus, LLC; Spring Industrial Holdings LLC, and The Sqwincher Corporation.

Goldman Sachs has been a client of Williams Capital in the past, and Goldman hired Williams in 2009 “to run $1 billion of the company’s balance sheet assets in U.S. Treasury and government agency securities.” Williams Capital also works with other corporate treasury clients as well as pension funds.[3] Other past clients have included Ford Motor Company, Eli Lilly & Company, Colgate-Palmolive, Walmart, AT&T, Fannie Mae, and the Federal Reserve Board, on its Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility.

Williams has consistently been one of the most active minority underwriters in the U.S. for at least the last decade. Williams Capital was #2 on Black Enterprise’s ranking of investment banks in 2010.[4]

Williams Financial Markets (1992-1994)

A division of Jefferies & Company (a Los Angeles investment bank), Williams started this “boutique” firm that specialized in structuring debt financings for investment grade corporate issuers after leaving Lehman Brothers. His high-profile clients included PepsiCo and General Electric Capital Corp.

Lehman Brothers (1984-1992)

Williams worked in debt capital markets, derivatives and fixed income securities and trading. He built a specialty unit for Lehman Brothers.

Architecture

Before business school, Williams was a practicing architect in Connecticut for two years.

Corporate boards

  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.: Independent Director (2004-present). Williams has been on the board’s audit committee since March 2005, and has chaired it since 2008. He was on the audit committee when allegations of bribery in the company’s Mexican division first surfaced in September 2005. The revelation of alleged bribery could be evidence that this committee failed in its role of ensuring proper internal controls—despite repeated calls from shareholders to beef up compliance standards. Interestingly, the outside firm that Walmart hired to conduct its internal investigation into the allegations is reporting to the Audit committee itself.
  • Caesars Entertainment Corporation (formerly Harrah’s Entertainment Group): Director (Nov. 2003-Jan. 2008; April 2008-present)
  • Cox Enterprises: Director (April 2012 – present)

Professional associations and work-related activities

  • Entreteach Worldwide: Professional Staff
  • Aviation Advisory Committee, US Department of Transportation: Member (March 2010-present)
    • Former DOT Secretary Ray LaHood appointed Williams to this committee, which is entrusted with providing “information, advice, and recommendations to the Secretary on ensuring the competitiveness of the U.S. aviation industry and its capability to address the evolving transportation needs, challenges and opportunities of the U.S. and global economy.”
  • National Association of Securities Professionals: Director
  • Partnership for New York City: Director. Williams Capital Group is also a supporter of this organization.
  • Young Presidents Organization: Member
  • Economic Club of New York: Member
  • Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association: Former Director

Political giving

Williams is a registered Democrat in the state of New York.[5]

Federal political contributions

While his political donations have not exclusively been to Democrats, Williams does donate heavily to Democrats and Democrat-affiliated PACs. In 2011, Williams gave $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee. That year, he also gave to Barack Obama, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX).  From 2000 to 2010, Williams donated $108,050 to Democrat groups and Democrat-affiliated PACs.[6]

State political contributions

Williams is a longtime acquaintance of former New York City Comptroller H. Carl McCall, a Democrat.  In 1998, the New York Times questioned the possible connection between donations to McCall’s campaign made by people with ties to Williams Capital and the selection of Williams Capital Group as an investment manager for the state’s pension funds.

Community connections

  • Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts: Director
  • National Dance Institute: Director
  • Teachers College, Columbia University: Trustee
  • Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College: Chair, Board of Overseers
  • The Mount Sinai Medical Center: Trustee
  • Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation: Former Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees and former Trustee. Williams and his wife Janice have often co-chaired one of Ailey’s annual events, the Apollo gala.[7]

 


[1] Based on reported ownership of 45,976.7208 shares as of June 30, 2013 (http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/104169/000112760213022090/xslF345X03/form4.xml) and WMT’s adjusted closing price of $78.01 per share on July 25, 2013 (http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=WMT+Historical+Prices)

[2] “Janice Savin Williams and Christopher J. Williams honored by Ailey at The Apollo.” New York Beacon. May 28, 2009 – June 3, 2009.

[3] “Hirings.” Pensions & Investments. June 1, 2009.

[4] “B.E. Investment Banks.” Black Enterprise. June 2010.

[5] New York voter file.

[6] Data from OpenSecrets.org.

[7] “Janice Savin Williams and Christopher J. Williams honored by Ailey at The Apollo.” New York Beacon. May 28, 2009 – June 3, 2009.