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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 05:27 GMT 06:27 UK
Buyers flock to Enron auction
Enron's famous sign fetched many times the asking price
Enron's famous crooked E logo was the most sought after item on the first day of an auction of the disgraced energy trader's assets.

Hundreds of buyers queued outside a Houston hotel to take part in the bidding.

Inside, over 1,000 people filled the hotel ballroom and 12,000 more bid for the lots via the internet.

The crooked E logo that used to sit outside the firm's head office was bought for $44,000 by a Houston computer store which plans to use it as an advertising gimmick.

No bargains

Its counterpart fetched $15,000, less than half as much, when the contents of the firm's London premises were sold off several months ago.

Jimmy Luu, an employee of Microcache Computer, who won the bidding for the big E, said his boss had told him to "do anything" to get it. Bidding on the Houston E had opened at $500.

But bargains were thin on the ground as the scandal of Enron's fall from US corporate darling to bankrupt energy firm pushed up the price of otherwise unremarkable office equipment.

Even the auctioneer seemed to think the bidding was going too high when a TV set that can be bought at a discount retailer for $250 sold for $800. "I have two words for you: Circuit City," he told the buyer.

"Our creditors should be pleased," said Karen Denne, an Enron spokeswoman.

Enron filed for bankruptcy protection last winter after admitting it had inflated its profits.

The scandal sparked widespread fears about US accounting practices and unnerved investors, sparking dramatic falls in US stock markets which have been reflected around the world.


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