Enron: from the Beginning to the End

Topics: Enron, Enron scandal, Kenneth Lay Pages: 7 (2529 words) Published: April 3, 2008
When many people hear the word Enron, they immediately associate it with the most important accounting scandal of our lifetimes. Enron was an American gas company that began as the Northern Natural Gas Company in 1931. Internorth, a holding company in headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, purchased the Northern Natural Gas Company and reorganized it is 1979. Enron arose from the 1985 merger of Houston Natural Gas and Internorth. After building a large, new corporate headquarters in Omaha, the new Enron named former Houston Natural Gas CEO Kenneth Lay as CEO of the newly merged company, and soon moved Enron's headquarters to Houston, Texas. After becoming the newly created top executive, Lay later became chairman of the board and hired Jeffrey Skilling as Chief Executive Officer. Under their leadership, Enron adopted an aggressive growth strategy. Andrew Fastow, Enron’s Chief Financial Officer, helped create the complex financial structure for the new Enron. (Reinstein, et all, 2002)

Products and Services
Enron was originally involved in the transmission and distribution of electricity and gas throughout the United States, and the development, construction, and operation of power plants, pipelines and other infrastructure worldwide. The corporation had a variety of products that it offered such as petrochemicals, plastics, power, pulp and steel. Enron also had a variety of service lines such as Energy and Commodities Services, Broadband Services, Capital and Risk Management Services, Energy Transportation and Upstream Services, and Commercial and Industrial Outsourcing Services.

Rapid Expansion
Government regulation is one way that society shows it cares about responsible conduct in business. In the early 1990s the Congress of the United States of America passed legislation deregulating the sale of electricity. It had done the same for natural gas some years earlier. Enron took advantage of the lack of regulation of its energy trading business to influence government officials and play games with the numbers. (Nussbaum, B. 2002) Enron rapidly changed its business from a regulated natural gas company into one of the world’s largest energy traders. The corporation became an unregulated derivative –trading company. It generated funds by entering into extremely volatile, risky, and expensive hedging transactions. The company changed its business focus from primarily delivering and brokering energy domestically to focusing on three new key business areas: water, international energy brokerage, and broadband communications. (Reinstein, et all, 2002) Between 1996 and 2000, the average Chief Executive Salaries and bonus increased by 24% to $1.72 million. Total CEO Compensation, including stock options and restricted stock grants, grew 166% to an average of $7.43 million. In the same period, corporate profits grew by 16%, and per capita income grew by 18%. (Reinstein, et all, 2002) By the late 1990s, Enron’s stock was trading for $80-90 per share. Enron reported revenue of $111 billion in 2000. As the corporation grew rapidly, the emphasis was more on short-term effects and not on the long-term. It became all about living up to the expectations of growth. The system of internal control and control by the management could not keep up with the way Enron was growing. No one outside of the company could figure out how Enron was able to generate so much revenue compared to its counterparts. Occasionally, when pressed, Enron executives attributed the growth and success to new approaches to management, “creative financing”, and their commitment to hiring executives who knew their way through the corridors of power in capitals across the globe. (Perkins, 2004)

Role of Management
In order to continue to grow, increase its profits and push up its share price, Enron needed additional capital despite its substantial debt load. Therefore, it formed a series of partnerships between various Enron...
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