Twenty Billion or Bust

Fortnightly Magazine - October 15 1999
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The minimum stake that marketers must bring to the table.

Conventional wisdom says any commodity marketer requires scale and scope in order to succeed. But what constitutes scale and scope? Some specifics follow.

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* Size. Balance sheet of sufficient size and strength to withstand the volatility of commodity prices. Minimum total asset base of $20 billion.

* Flexibility. Balance sheet with inherent flexibility, meaning the company's finance and accounting practices are not subject to much more than standard Securities and Exchange Commission or Financial Accounting Standards Board requirements. Flexibility in this context means the ability to quickly monetize or acquire assets, as well as the ability to extract both quality income and earnings growth from related company business units beyond the marketing entity.

* Asset Diversity. Established ownership of a critical mass of assets, including both physical commodity transportation assets (pipelines, transmission lines) and commodity production assets.

* Access. Ability to gain contractual access to or control of additional production and delivery assets, leveraging established asset base.

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