PG&E shares plunge on bankruptcy worries

Ivan Schwartz
January 8, 2019

A bankruptcy filing is not certain, the sources said.

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.

Shares of PG&E were down 14 per cent in pre-market trading on the NY stock exchange. "We recognize the need to balance the interests of many stakeholders while maintaining safe, reliable, and affordable services for our customers, which is always our top priority".

This follows Friday's report by Reuters saying the utility is considering the move for some or all of its businesses.

Three major insurance companies have filed a Camp Fire lawsuit against PG&E as a result of the billions of dollars in claims they are expecting.

The cause of the Camp Fire is still under investigation, according to state fire officials.

The Sacramento Bee reports that PG&E is already facing multiple lawsuits from wildfire survivors.

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A new law signed by California governor Jerry Brown previous year, requires the commission to consider a utility's finances when evaluating damages caused by wildfires, in order to determine the maximum amount it can pay without harming customers.

Filing for bankruptcy would shield PG&E from the liabilities, giving it time to figure out how to handle the claims.

The parent company of California's largest utility said Friday it is assessing its finances and structure in its effort to confront a growing liability threat from wildfires blamed on the company.

PG&E, whose shares have lost almost half of their value since the wildfire, said it is working with a leading search firm to identify new directors and is interviewing several candidates.

PG&E added that it has formed a special board committee that includes independent experts to advise on wildfire safety best practices. The company is also being kept under close scrutiny by Cal Fire, the Public Utilities Commission, and federal prosecutors.

S&P Global Ratings on Monday stripped PG&E Corp of its investment-grade credit rating, citing indications of a significant deterioration in the political and regulatory environment for the California power utility.

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