They’re celebrating in Portland. As part of a regular financial distribution to its creditors, Enron today handed out some 27 million shares of Portland General Electric. In doing so, the fallen energy trading giant relinquished control of PGE, making the utility a stand-alone, publicly-traded company again for the first time since it was purchased by Enron in 1997.
The utility planned to begin as-issued trading today on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol POR once the shares were issued. “We are now independent of Enron,” said Peggy Fowler, CEO and president of PGE.
Fowler and seven PGE employees will be on hand to ring the opening bell at the NYSE next Monday, when PGE anticipates regular trading will begin. The utility also plans to celebrate with a television commercial and a community day at the PGE Park (home to the minor league Portland Beavers). It ran a newspaper ad featuring a photo of 1,250 employees under a banner inscribed “We don’t do this every day.”
Enron announced a $4.68 billion distribution to creditors as part of a twice-yearly schedule in the wake of its bankruptcy filing. The energy company, which makes distributions in April and November as well as “catch-up” claims every two months, has now returned a total of $5.83 billion to creditors. The current payout, Enron’s ninth, consisted of more than $4.1 billion in cash and more than 27 million shares of Portland General Electric valued at $568 million.
The shares paid out to creditors represent roughly 43 percent of a new issuance of 62.5 million shares, which replace the utility’s existing common shares. The remaining 35.5 million shares will be held in a disputed-claims reserve for distribution by a bankruptcy court to Enron creditors. In addition to $745 million worth of PGE shares, the reserve now holds about $4.69 billion in cash.
“Today’s distribution is the most significant amount recovered to date and represents a tremendous financial outcome for the Enron estate,” said Enron chairman and president John Ray, in a statement. “We are dedicated to continuing the process of resolving the remaining claims, recovering amounts due to creditors from third parties and distributing value.”