Enron's Chief Executive Quits After Only 6 Months in Job
 
 

DALLAS, Aug. 14 Jeffrey Skilling, the chief executive of the Enron Corporation, stunned Wall Street
today by announcing that he would quit after just six months in the job, calling the move a "purely personal decision."
But the abruptness of the departure left many analysts questioning whether a series of setbacks the
company has suffered played a part in the decision.

Kenneth Lay, Enron's 59-year-old chairman, will step back into the position he left early this year after 15 years
as chief executive. Mr. Lay, who originally recruited Mr. Skilling to Enron, said tonight that he had agreed to stay on
through the end of 2005 to "make sure we've got plenty of time to work out an orderly succession."

Mr. Skilling, 47, had been at the heart of the transformation of Enron from an old- line natural gas
pipeline company to the biggest and most aggressive of the new breed of unregulated energy traders
that buy and sell billions of dollars of electricity and other commodities daily.

That strategy helped Enron's stock price soar during the last decade. But this year the company's shares have
fallen sharply, as Enron has suffered from problems with its new broadband telecommunications trading unit,
its investment in a large power plant in India, and criticism from officials in California, who blame Enron and
other energy companies for the collapse of the state's electricity market.

A former energy consultant at McKinsey & Company who joined Enron in 1990, Mr. Skilling built its
energy-trading operations into the company's most profitable unit, accounting for nearly $1.7 billion
or 85 percent of operating income last year. He became president and chief operating officer in
1997, and in February of this year became chief executive.

On a conference call, Mr. Skilling said he could not "stress enough that this has nothing to do with Enron."
He added that "the reasons for leaving the business are personal, but I'd just as soon keep that private."

"I'm surprised and I'm stunned," said Philip K. Verleger, an energy economist with the Brattle Group,
a consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass. "Skilling was the guy who executed the growth in the trading business."

Investors have become increasingly concerned that a surge in new power plant construction will lead
to a glut of electricity within a few years and lower the value of Enron's role as a middleman between
plant owners and electricity users. In addition, the company's efforts to enter the water business have
fared poorly, and its broadband trading operation has become a cash drain.
 
 

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