I am reading "Power Failure: The Inside Story of The Collapse of Enron" By Mimi Swartz, Sherron Watkins.

In the book, the following transaction is described:

Enron had USD200mn worth of futures on its own stock. The gain could not be booked as profit due to accounting restrictions. Enron had booked a USD300mn profit booking as mark-to-market some shares in a company called RhythmsNet.

As I understand, their goal was to hedge their profit gain on RhythmsNet. Therefore they decided to buy a put on the RhythmsNet exposure.

They set up a separate, off balance sheet, entity where they parked the forwards (by selling the forwards to the SPV at book value). The entity would have sold the put for "as much as possible" so that the SPV assets would have matched as close as possible the USD300mn liability without the need of additional capital injections in the SPV.

I still fail to understand why it would have made sense for Enron, however, to buy an overpriced put. My point is that the difference between the price and the fair value would have hit anyway the bottom line at some point in time.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand this complicated transaction. I would love to have someone here explain to me. I suspect that they were losing money in one pocket but making it back in another pocket. They bought the put but they also sold it using different entity. Anyway, I am glad they went to jail. $\endgroup$
    – nbbo2
    Feb 19, 2016 at 14:01


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