Tax Fight Reveals Murphy's Philosophy on Wealth

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Sep. 27, 2010 12:00 am  

But in 1941, he suffered a "debilitating" stroke, leaving his 21-year-old son, Charles Jr., to assume the management of the family businesses - work that was interrupted by his service in World War II. 

In 1946, Charles Murphy Jr. and his three sisters merged their various individual and family interests to form their own partnership, C.H. Murphy & Co.

"Actually, my father would have preferred to have gone off on his own," Martha Murphy said during the September 2008 bench trial. "But at the bequest [sic] of his father, he began to manage the pooled interests."

The Murphys had about $15 million worth of combined assets, Martha Murphy testified.

"Within a short while, my father decided he needed to avail himself of the larger capital markets, so they took the company public and pretty much the rest is history," she said.

By 1964, the company had changed its name to Murphy Oil Corp., and Charles Murphy served as president until 1972 and as its CEO until 1984.

"Business is what Pop does," Martha Murphy said. "He had very few hobbies and when he took on ... an endeavor, he just did it wholeheartedly. It wasn't in his nature to be passive."

In addition to running Murphy Oil, Charles Murphy Jr. also added to the land holdings of his father. The land assets, which became Deltic Timber Corp., a subsidiary of Murphy Oil, expanded to more than 400,000 acres of farm and timberland. (Deltic Timber was spun off as a separate publicly traded company in 1996.)

The Murphy family also held an interest in First United Bancshares Inc. of El Dorado, which was acquired by BancorpSouth Inc. of Tupelo, Miss., in 2000.

Charles Murphy Jr.'s investment philosophy was "to put all of your eggs in one basket and then very carefully tend your basket," Martha Murphy said. "He felt enormous responsibility to the assets he'd been given. He felt an obligation to make those assets grow and be absolutely as productive as possible.

"I think he had a natural instinct, and then an instinct that he honed, to concentrate his activities and his interests," she said. "He was very much focused on oil and gas, timber and banking."

Madison Murphy also testified that his father was a visionary.



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