Different Paths Taken by Enron’s Past Management

Last week Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling were found guilty on numerous charges related to the demise of Enron. Today we hear that Richard Kinder is heading up a bid to take Kinder Morgan (KMI), his energy pipeline company, private in $100 per share deal. It’s very interesting that these two events are coming only days apart.

For those of you who are not familiar with Richard Kinder, he was the President and Chief Operating Officer at Enron ten years ago and was seen as CEO Ken Lay’s successor. However, Kinder left in 1996 after a falling out with Lay, and Jeff Skilling took his job. We all know how that ended up.

Kinder, however, always saw the future of Enron as a dominant pipeline company. Owners of oil and natural gas pipelines act much like toll booths, collecting fees as energy is transported over their infrastructure, regardless of the price of the commodity. Conversely, Lay wanted Enron to focus on energy trading and much more risky ventures.

Kinder, along with partner Bill Morgan, co-founded Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI) and actually bought Enron’s pipelines from Lay. It’s not hard to see which strategy turned out to be right. Kinder is the majority owner of KMI and sees so much value in the company that he wants to take it private for $13.5 billion. Enron is, well, completely worthless.