Enron began as Northern Natural Gas Company, organized in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1930. The company's founding came just a few months after the stock market crash of 1929, an unusual time to launch a new venture. Several aspects of the Great Depression actually worked in Northern's favor, however. Consumers initially were not enthusiastic about natural gas as a heating fuel, but its low cost led to its acceptance during tough economic times. High unemployment brought the new company a ready supply of cheap labor to build its pipeline system. The 1940s brought changes in Northern's regulation and ownership. The Federal Power Commission, created as a result of the Natural Gas Act of 1938, regulated the natural gas industry's rates and expansion.
1944: Acquires the gas-gathering and transmission lines of Argus Natural Gas Co. 1945: Argus properties are consolidated into a subsidiary called Peoples Natural Gas Co
As time went on Northern kept expanding through acquisitions. First in 1967 it made an acquisition with Protane Corporation, a distributor of propane gas in the eastern US and the Carribbean. In 1976, Northern formed Northern Arctic Gas Company, a partner in the proposed Alaskan arctic gas pipeline, and Northern Liquid Fuels International Ltd., a supply and marketing company.
1980: Northern changes its name to InterNorth, Inc. Its attempted hostile takeover of Crouse-Hinds Co., an electrical products manufacturer, is thwarted by Cooper Industries. Northern Overthrust Pipeline Co. and Northern Trailblazer Pipeline Co. are set up to participate in the Trailblazer pipeline. Creates two exploration and production companies, Nortex Gas & Oil and Consolidex Gas and Oil Ltd.
1982: Forms Northern Intrastate Pipeline Co. and Northern Coal Pipeline Co. Establishes InterNorth International, Inc. to oversee non-U.S. operations
InterNorth made an acquisition of enormous proportions in 1985, when it bid to purchase Houston Natural Gas Corporation for about $2.26 billion. The offer was received enthusiastically, and the merger created the largest gas pipeline system in the United States--about 37,000 miles at the time.
1985: InterNorth merges with Houston Natural Gas Corp. to form HNG/InterNorth. The new enterprise begins to divest some of its business that did not fit in with its long-term goals, including the Peoples division, which sells for $250 million. Peru's government nationalizes the company's assets there, and HNG/InterNorth begins negotiating for payment, taking a $218 million charge against earnings in the meantime. 1986: Changes its name to Enron Corp. Sells its chemical subsidiary and its 50% stake in Citrus Corp.
Enron built power plants in industrial and developing nations all over the world: Italy, Turkey, Argentina, China, India, Brazil, Guatemala, Bolivia, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, and others. By 1996, earnings from these projects accounted for 25 percent of total company earnings before interest and taxes
1998: Enron puts its Enron Oil & Gas Co. up for sale, but refuses an offer, reportedly from Occidental Petroluem Corp., for 53.5% of the unit. The company secures roughly $800 million worth of new customers each quarter. By the year's end, it is the largest electricity wholesale operation in the U.S. 1999: Acquires Teeside Utilities and Services from Imperial Chemical Industries PLC for $480 million. BP Amoco PLC pays $45 million for Enron's 50% stake in Solarex, a solar energy venture. Begins offering electricity...