A tale of three deals - ADT, Westinghouse, KCPL - at Western Resources.
Sensing changes in the utility industry, Western Resources Inc. in 1994 began to examine what it was and what it needed to be - to customers, to investors and to other constituencies. Through an extended exercise in strategic planning, we produced a rather typical end product: a document outlining a hypothetical future of growth, financial strength and customer satisfaction. What followed often appeared more like a "Chinese fire drill." But the end result, if one can call it an end, was a completely new look, orientation and structure-along with a substantially improved stock price.
The story of how Western Resources set about recreating itself is long and complex. I played a role in that story, as I served as general counsel at Western Resources from 1987 to 1998. This discussion, however, deals with only one element of that process, the coordination of a wide array of legal and regulatory issues among and across several major, simultaneous transactions.
The object, when a transaction was selected, was to get it done, preserving the benefits for the company with minimum difficulty for the other transactions in progress. Given the number of issues and the number of simultaneous transactions, this coordination effort became a discipline in itself.
Planned, but Unforeseen
In 1995, Western Resources, a $5 billion electric and gas utility with a small unregulated subsidiary engaged in various related businesses, began to diversify into other types of business in a small way. Its first decisive step into a new business came near the end of 1995, when it acquired several small home security companies and set up Westar Security (a name it subsequently relinquished).