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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 11:40 GMT
Cooper comes to Enron's rescue
Zolfo Cooper website
Cooper is managing partner of Zolfo Cooper
The appointment of Stephen Cooper as acting chief executive and restructuring officer of bankrupt energy group Enron has been welcomed by industry analysts.

Mr Cooper, 55, is an accountant and managing partner of New York-based specialist corporate restructuring firm Zolfo Cooper.

Stephen Cooper, acting chief executive and restructuring officer of Enron
Cooper: Our focus is on the future of Enron
He will immediately takeover from former chairman and chief executive Kenneth Lay, who resigned on Wednesday after being pressured to step aside by Enron's creditors' committee.

Mr Cooper and his firm have been involved in dozens of company reorganizations over the past 30 years, including Macy's parent Federated Department Stores, Laker Airways and Robert Maxwell's Maxwell Newspapers.

"Zolfo Cooper is an impressive firm and does good work," said Randall Patterson with auto-industry restructuring specialists BBK.

Before founding the company with partner Frank Zolfo in 1986, Mr Cooper had been an accountant with Touche Ross since 1968.

He is reported to have only limited experience in the energy sector.

Restructuring specialist

The Enron job comes on top of his role as vice chairman and chief restructuring officer of Canadian transport group Laidlaw, operator of the Greyhound bus line and North America's biggest school bus fleet.


I've seen companies in bankruptcy that don't have nearly as strong a position as this company...they were able to emerge successfully from bankruptcy, and I'm certain Enron will also

Stephen Cooper
"You can expect he will be an honest broker and evaluate matters intelligently," said Richard Cieri, a restructuring specialist with Jones Day Reavis & Pogue who are advising Laidlaw.

"Our focus is on the future of Enron ... With more than 19,000 employees worldwide, Enron has real businesses with real value", said Mr Cooper in a statement.

He added he will "develop a reorganization plan to maximize value for the company's stakeholders."

In a company-wide voicemail to Enron employees immediately after his appointment, he reassured them the company could be turned around.

"I've seen companies in bankruptcy that don't have nearly as strong a position as this company," he said.

"They were able to emerge successfully from bankruptcy, and I'm certain Enron will also."

On the busses

His optimism over Enron is not mirrored in the restructuring of Laidlaw, which is expected to yield little joy for the shareholders.

"Unfortunately, as we have previously discussed and is often the case with reorganisations, the value of the company's assets proved to be insufficient to support a recovery for the company's current shareholders," Mr Cooper said at the time.

Laidlaw filed for bankruptcy protection in 2000 to restructure debts totalling about $3.5bn and is fighting a 'securities fraud' class action.

The Canadian company hit problems after a debt-fuelled expansion into US markets in the 1990s which culminated in 2000 when it defaulted on $1.8bn of bonds and called in Zolfo Cooper.

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Holly Etlin of Deloitte and Touche
"Stephen will not shirk from taking decisions"

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