Enron's UK metals subsidiary offloaded for £99m

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The Independent Online

The administrators of the European arm of the collapsed energy giant Enron yesterday announced the sale of the company's UK subsidiary Enron Metals in a move which will save 60 jobs in Britain.

The business has been sold to Sempra Energy, one of America's largest gas and electricity suppliers and a former rival of Enron, for $145m (£99m). The money will be divided up by the administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers between hundreds of creditors.

Enron Metals, which is the largest metals trading broker on the London Metals Exchange, has always been ring-fenced from its parent company under LME regulations and so has maintained a strong balance sheet. As a consequence, the business has continued to trade profitably in the last couple of months despite the spectacular collapse of Enron in America. PwC sold Enron Metals as a going concern.

Sempra, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, said it would rename the business Sempra Metals and would merge the subsidiary with its own energy trading division. Sempra has a market capitalisation of $5bn and is a Fortune 500 company. It expects to complete the purchase of Enron Metals by 4 February.

Donald Felsinger, president of Sempra Energy, said: "This acquisition expands Sempra Energy's trading and risk management capabilities and enhances its position as a commodity trading firm."

Enron Metals is the former Metallgesellschaft broking and marketing business which was founded in 1970 and was the largest segment of MG, which was floated on the Stock Exchange in September 1999. Enron bought MG in July 2000.