PG&E plummets after bankruptcy talk stirs concern, suspicion

PG&E plummets after bankruptcy talk stirs concern, suspicion

Citing anonymous sources, Reuters reported that the company was considering filing for bankruptcy because it could soon face a "significant" charge related to liabilities related to California wildfires in 2017 and 2018.

A bankruptcy filing is not certain, the sources said.

The California legislature is back in session from the holiday break, but Ford sees "no haste for action..." The federal judge is overseeing PG&E's probation involving the 2010 San Bruno, California, gas line explosion. They'll have to decide whether to allow the company to pass some of the costs of the fire through to taxpayers, Katie Bays and Clayton Allen, analysts at Height Securities LLC, said in a note on Monday.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) was getting hit hard Monday, down more than 18% at $19.93 a share, after a report out late Friday said it was considering filing for bankruptcy protection.

Reuters reported a year ago that the company was working with bankruptcy advisors.

PG&E has faced penalties for failing to meet regulatory standards in previous incidents and is now under probation for its role in a pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people and injured more than 50.

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In November, California Assemblyman Chris Holden said a bill would be introduced in January to help PG&E absorb potential liabilities from the latest wildfires. As part of the bill, PG&E will be able to issue bonds backed by surcharges from its customers.

Bankruptcy "should be considered a credible risk by shareholders", they said. In response to a request for a comment from Fortune, PG&E emailed: "T$3 he PG&E Board is reviewing structural options to best position PG&E to implement necessary changes while meeting customer and operational needs".

California Public Utilities Commission chief Michael Picker said that same month that he couldn't imagine allowing the state's largest utility to go into bankruptcy.

"We want to tap fresh perspectives and additional expertise to help address the changing nature of PG&E's business and the challenges it faces now and in the future", the board said in a statement. "We await more visibility with PG&E as we believe Edison International (EIX) remains the "safer" way to play CA (outside of Buy-rated Sempra Energy (SRE))".

"Without adequate political and regulatory support, we can not rule out a Chapter 11 filing", Christopher Turnure analyst at J.P. Morgan said in a note.

"Rather than waiting for the regulators to tell you what's going to happen - which could take years", he said, "you're in the bankruptcy court where there's a structure".

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