Tuesday, December 02, 2008

又到紀念日

今天對大部分投資者來說,或許又是炒衰退而推低大市,但在7年前的今日,其實是一個美國夢幻投資的破滅,這間就是安然(Enron),當年今日就是該公司因會計醜聞,正式宣布破產的日子。

Enron在1985年,由兩間公司合併而成後,在短短十年間,由一間受規管的天然氣管道公司,變成一間全球領先的能源交易集團,更曾一度雄霸全國25%以上的天然氣及電力交易。不過,慢慢走錯方向就恨錯難返,最終關門結業。

安然破產產生的震撼影響有多悲惨?股東資金達600億美元(約4,680億港元),就此泡湯,至於該公司的債權人合共債項達670億美元(約5,226億港元),受影響人數更達2萬人之多,可惜對不起,齊齊要削髮(hair-cut),即削減應收債項,像一頭濃濃的秀髮,最後只能保留大約幾條毛而已。因為每1美元債項,只能收回14至25美仙,即最幸運的,也僅可取回四分之一款項,可見銀行、借貸商有多慘烈,當中又有多少因此而陷入結業之途,恐怕難作估計。

至於Enron近5,000名員工,不但在一夜之間失去工作,原本擁有的醫療保險亦蒸發掉,更可悲的是,部分員工信任Enron,看其前景,甚至不惜把寶貴的退休金,投資於該企業,落得的收場,相信大家可想而知。

其實,當時有公司要員早在出事前,已發現公司有問題,早在當年8月,副總裁Sherron Watkins便曾寫memo(備忘錄)予CEO Ken Lay,講明該公司可能陷入會計醜聞,故為此而感到極度憂慮,更曾與Ken會面,可惜卻是無疾而終。她更稱,Enron本身甚至連內部審核部門也欠奉,反映企業本身缺乏足夠監管制度,有心人要找欺詐機會易如反掌,而且被揭發的可能性亦不大,難怪營運情況日漸惡化。

但大家知否,安然這間公司在破產前,竟然從來沒有一個季度出現虧損的,開始是否有些似曾相識的感覺?翻查資料,原來佑威(627)自上市以來,每年都有盈利,儘管是年年上升,但有誰估到,佑威今日竟淪落被臨時清監人接管呢!

估不到的是,7年之後,事件又重複發生,美國整個金融體系引起的連鎖效應,同樣不遑多讓,兼且導致全球經濟陷入困境,相信連雷曼兄弟(Lehman Brothers)CEO Richard Fuld自己也猜不到,原來公司破產有如此威力吧!再看看過去,金融機構處理次按等衍生工具的會計帳目方法,又是否已構成醜聞呢?究竟有否正義之師代出頭,調查是否與犯罪拉上關係。

雖然歷史不斷在重複,禤中怡無意嚇大家,兼且不要因此而怕了投資,更不要以偏概全,皆因世界上仍有很多優秀的企業,但總不能瞓身在一間公司,否則有可能真的會欲哭無淚。

(12月3日刊於《am730》)

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