Enron traces its roots to the Northern Natural Gas Company, which was formed in 1932, in Omaha, Nebraska. It was reorganized in 1979 as the leading subsidiary of a holding company, InterNorth. In 1985, it bought the smaller and less diversified Houston Natural Gas. The separate company initially named itself "HNG/InterNorth Inc.", even though InterNorth was the nominal survivor. It built a large and lavish headquarters complex with pink marble in Omaha (dubbed locally as the "Pink Palace"), that was later sold to Physicians Mutual. However, the departure of ex-InterNorth and first CEO of Enron Corp Samuel Segnar six months after the merger allowed former HNG CEO Kenneth Lay to become the next CEO of the newly merged company. Lay soon moved Enron's headquarters to Houston and began to thoroughly re-brand the business. Lay and his secretary, Nancy McNeil, originally selected the name "Enteron" (possibly spelled in camelcase as "EnterOn"), but, when it was pointed out that the term approximated a Greek word referring to the intestines, it was quickly shortened to "Enron". The final name was decided upon only after business cards, stationery, and other items had been printed reading Enteron. Enron's "crooked E" logo was designed in the mid-1990s by the late American graphic designer Paul Rand.
In 1990, Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, a Harvard M.B.A., hired Andrew Fastow who was well acquainted with the burgeoning deregulated energy market Skilling wanted to exploit. In 1993, Fastow set to work establishing numerous limited liability special purpose entitites (common business practice); however, it also allowed Enron to place liability so that it would not appear in its accounts, allowing it to maintain a robust and generally growing stock price and thus keeping its critical investment grade credit ratings.
Enron was originally involved in transmitting and distributing electricity and natural gas throughout the United States. The company developed, built, and operated power plants and pipelines while dealing with rules of law and other infrastructures worldwide. Enron owned a large network of natural gas pipelines, which stretched ocean to ocean and border to border including Northern Natural Gas, Florida Gas Transmission, Transwestern Pipeline company and a partnership in Northern Border Pipeline from Canada. The states of California, New Hampshire and Rhode Island had already passed power deregulation laws by July 1996, the time of Enron's proposal to acquire Portland General Electric
. In 1998, Enron moved into the water sector, creating the Azurix Corporation, which it part-floated on the New York Stock Exchange in June 1999. Azurix failed to break into the water utility market, and one of its major concessions, in Buenos Aires, was a large-scale money-loser.
Enron grew wealthy due largely to marketing, promoting power, and its high stock price. Enron was named "America's Most Innovative Company" by Fortune
for six consecutive years, from 1996 to 2001. It was on the Fortune
's "100 Best Companies to Work for in America" list in 2000, and had offices that were stunning in their opulence. Enron was hailed by many, including labor and the workforce, as an overall great company, praised for its large long-term pensions, benefits for its workers and extremely effective management until its exposure in corporate fraud. The first analyst to publicly disclose Enron's financial flaws was Daniel Scotto, who in August 2001 issued a report entitled "All Stressed up and no place to go", which encouraged investors to sell Enron stocks and bonds at any and all costs.
As was later discovered, many of Enron's recorded assets and profits were inflated or even wholly fraudulent and nonexistent. Debts and losses were put into entities formed "offshore" that were not included in the firm's financial statements, and other sophisticated and arcane financial transactions between Enron and related companies were used to take unprofitable entities off the company's books.
Its most valuable asset and the largest source of honest income, the 1930s-era Northern Natural Gas, was eventually purchased back by a group of Omaha investors, who moved its headquarters back to Omaha, and is now a unit of Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy Holdings Corp. NNG was put up as collateral for a $2.5 billion capital infusion by Dynegy Corporation when Dynegy was planning to buy Enron. When Dynegy looked closely at Enron's books, they backed out of the deal and fired their CEO, Chuck Watson. The new chairman and head CEO, the late Daniel Dienstbier, had been president of NNG and an Enron executive at one time and an acquaintance of Warren Buffett. NNG continues to be profitable today.Close Up of Vignette
Common Stock, specimen, late 1900’sPrinter: American Bank Note Company Dimensions:
8” (h) x 12” (w)State: TX-Texas
| NE-Nebraska Subject Matter: Famous Companies
| Scandals and Collapses
| Oil Companies
| Natural Gas Companies
| Specimen Pieces Vignette Topic(s): Male Subject
| Female Subject
| Globe Featured Condition:
No fold lines, punch hole cancels in signature areas and bodies. Very crisp.