RWE views losing the money as unpleasant rather than crucial: “While this figure is not peanuts, it won’t make a major difference on our P&L.” The most recent figures available – those for the period from July–September 2001 – show RWE making a net profit of €304 million.
A senior trader at RWE Trading said the Enron situation has had some real benefits for the German energy major. New opportunities in the sector leave RWE – Germany’s second largest utility – well placed to grab market share, especially as it now has the help of some ex-Enron employees: “We have taken around 15 people from Enron in London and Essen,” said the trader. “If you add the number we have in Houston too, that figure doubles.”
The fallout from Enron’s demise has adversely affected Europe’s growing electricity sector, said the trader. But he added that, aside from its exposure to the company, RWE is coping well: “Continental European power markets are now quite a lot less liquid and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for us as the margins have come back. The damage caused by Enron is more to the market’s reputation than to the working of the market itself.”
As players in Europe jostle for volume in the post-Enron market, RWE is attempting to lead the field in its own way. “We have never been as aggressive as Enron were but we are working very hard to replace them,” the trader said.