Skilling Named Enron's New CEO; Lay Chairman
Jeffrey Skilling, Enron Corp.'s front man for its energy risk
management business and commodity trading growth, will add a CEO in
February to his title of president and CFO following a vote by the
company's board of directors last week. Current CEO Kenneth Lay
will remain chairman and a full-time employee and once again tried
to dispel rumors that he may be tapped as a member of
President-Elect George W. Bush's cabinet.
"The best time for succession is when the successor is ready and
when the company is well positioned for the future," Lay said.
"Jeff is a big part of Enron's success and is clearly ready to lead
the company. With Jeff's promotion, succession is clear, our deep
pool of management talent remains intact, and no other
organizational changes need to be made to take the company to new
levels of growth."
Skilling, 47, joined Enron in 1990 after leading McKinsey &
Co.'s energy and chemical consulting practices. He is considered
responsible for bringing Enron to the forefront in energy trading,
and has been instrumental in Enron's use of risk management
products and forward contracting structures in the natural gas
industry, using similar concepts in electricity, bandwidth, metals
and other commodity products. He was named president and COO in
"I am particularly happy that Ken and I will continue running
the company together and that he has put the rumors of his possible
departure to Washington, D.C. to rest," Skilling said. He said he
did not want to "break up a team that has delivered superior
returns to Enron's shareholders." Enron's shares have risen about
74% this year.
Skilling said no major changes are anticipated, adding Enron
would be "steady as she goes." However, he expects more commodities
are expected to be added to Enron's trading market, including high
tech products such as data storage.
Lay, 58, has not completely ruled out the possibility that he
might take a job in D.C., if asked. He became Enron's chairman and
CEO in February 1986 after the company was created with the merger
of Houston Natural Gas and InterNorth. After serving as an officer
in the U.S. Navy, Lay had been Deputy Under Secretary for Energy in
the U.S. Department of the Interior. He also has been a top
contributor to Bush's campaign this year.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, Enron and its
employees have donated more money to Bush than any other company.
Lay is on a list of more than 70 contributors to Bush's recount
committee that raised at least $100,000 toward his election, the
Lay said he thinks there are several "serious" energy problems
facing the country, which would require a "strong" Secretary of
Energy. Among other things, he said the country needs to move
toward more deregulation and open more land to drilling for natural
gas. He also recommends that price caps be removed to encourage
Carolyn Davis, Houston
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