Here's a great story that features Enron, Carl Icahn, and the risks of pre-packaged bankruptcy.
Dynegy Inc. (NYSE:DYN) is trading near its 52-week low, and could go lower still, as investor Carl Icahn struggles to work its Dynegy Energy Holdings unit through the bankruptcy court. The filing was made on December 1.
The last writer at Seeking Alpha to write about this company was Iman Investor, last March, who called the company's condition "terminal." Back then the company was trading near $6/share. It's currently south of $1.50.
Icahn wants to leave the parent's bonds in the bankrupt entity, giving bondholders notes and cash worth 60 cents on the dollar. Local papers call this a "Chrysler" solution. Shareholders would then get the company's prime assets and walk away from its debts. An agreement on this was signed in November, followed by the bankruptcy filing.
Dynegy, formed by the merger of two natural gas companies, became an energy trader similar to Enron at the turn of the century, and at one point even tried to buy Enron as that company came crashing down. After narrowly averting bankruptcy itself early in the last decade (and selling off its pipeline assets), it became a coal power plant operator and natural gas liquids business.
What Icahn wants is the coal power plants, which are located in the Midwest. He came into the company in late 2010 with a $660 million offer, beating out The Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX). But he failed to complete it. He then brought in new directors and launched his war with the bondholders. Meanwhile, prices paid for natural gas plummeted throughout the year.
Anyone bullish on Dynegy at this point is betting Icahn can pull some value out of the fire with coal. Its 17 power plants still generate 11,800 megawatts. The trustee in the Dynegy Holdings bankruptcy remains suspicious of the shuffling of assets, and wants a hearing in the case postponed while she looks into it.
Meanwhile, Dynegy remains in a kind of limbo.
Can Icahn grab the coal and leave his bondholders holding a bag of natural gas? Will the trustee ruin his plans to make off with the assets on behalf of shareholders?
We'll know the answer soon, and if the answer is no, Dynegy shares could be headed to zero.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.