Fortnightly Magazine - March 15 2003

The Merchant Asset Fire Sale: Deal of the 21st Century?

Companies that were on a buying spree before 2001 are putting assets worth billions n the block


Companies that were on a buying spree before 2001 are putting assets worth billions n the block

A casual observer might expect that the industry's economic condition would produce a cornucopia of cheap assets for acquisitive companies . Eventually it might, but so far, it generally has not.

Caveat Emptor: Bottom Fishing With No Regrets

The pros and cons of waiting for the seller to declare bankruptcy.


The pros and cons of waiting for the seller to declare bankruptcy.

Sometimes a great opportunity is just too good to be true. Consider, for example, a purchase of distressed assets from one of the many energy companies now mired in well-publicized financial difficulties.

Frontlines

It's a law that only a mother could love.

It's a law that only a mother could love.

It's tough to write another word about repealing the Public Utility Holding Company Act (PUHCA), or the "35 Act," as it is also known, referring to its Depression-era origins. But like the Energizer bunny, this debate keeps on going and going.

It's almost 70 years later, and the issue has outlived several generations of utility executives, regulators, lawyers, bankers, academics, and a few magazine editors. Heck, it may outlive us all.

People

New Positions:

New Positions:

Martin Crotty and Dr. Soumen Ghosh joined SeaWest WindPower Inc. as senior vice president of operations and maintenance, and senior product manager of data services, respectively. Most recently, Crotty was director of operations for the Western Region of NRG Energy. Ghosh spent more than five years at ABB System Control and more than nine years at CMC.

Perspective

The musings of a utility staffer-written in a spirit of respect for all those staffers who have come to terms with their innermost fears.


The musings of a utility staffer-written in a spirit of respect for all those staffers who have come to terms with their innermost fears.

I am an employee at what they call a "FERC jurisdictional utility." That means I also moonlight as a professional meeting-goer. But it's a good job. I do my small part to keep the electric transmission grid safe and reliable.

Commission Watch

PUCs could face rate shock if feds push plans for an RTO signup bonus.


PUCs could face rate shock if feds push plans for an RTO signup bonus.

State PUCs will surely weigh in on the latest move by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to work its will on the nation's electric transmission grid. In this case, the item in question concerns a policy statement proposed by FERC that would reward electric utilities for investing in new transmission upgrades and-more importantly-for joining up with a regional transmission organization (RTO).

Business & Money

Some big utilities are looking to get bigger.


Some big utilities are looking to get bigger.

When Morgan Stanley last October asked 30 of the top 50 utility chiefs whether they expected to merge with another company in the next two years, two-thirds of them said they did. Asked whether they expected to merge within the next five years, the utility chiefs unanimously said yes.

Technology Corridor

The next big trend is to make network resources more interchangeable and less expensive.


The next big trend is to make network resources more interchangeable and less expensive.

Information technology (IT) infrastructure should be more like the infrastructure that generates electricity, IT consultants say, and at least one Texas utility is listening.

Forrester Research labels its vision for IT infrastructure "Organic IT" and promises that this new kind of infrastructure will save companies big bucks in the long run, without requiring a rip and replace of existing hardware and software.