Two state retirement funds lose to Enron

Saturday, January 19, 2002

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Two state retirement funds are reporting that they have lost nearly $32 million because of investments in utility company Enron, officials said Friday.

The Public School and the Non-Teacher School Employee Retirement Systems of Missouri said it lost $22.8 million, a total loss that represented 0.10 percent of the systems' assets. The combined assets of the school's systems were $21.4 billion as of Dec. 31, 2001.

The loss will not affect the ability of the systems to pay benefits to the more than 45,000 retirees or 124,000 active members, said Craig Husting, the systems chief investment officer.

The retirement system covers all teachers in the state except those in Kansas City and St. Louis.

Meanwhile, the Missouri State Employees' Retirement System also said Friday that it has lost close to $9 million as a result of the collapse of Enron.

Gary Findlay, executive director of the employee system, said the state has invested in Enron since the company first went public.

The $8.7 million loss represents less than 0.2 percent of the $5 billion state retirement fund.

"Eight million sounds like a lot of money but when you look at it ... it's not devastating like it would be for an individual," Findlay said.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said Friday it was trying to determine if Enron was part of its investment portfolio. Included in MoDOT's retirement system is the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Enron, once the seventh-largest U.S. company, entered the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history on Dec. 2. Congressional and other federal agencies are investigating the company's collapse.

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee released documents showing that nearly a year ago an accounting firm had strong misgivings about Enron's use of partnerships that kept hundreds of millions of dollars in losses off Enron's balance sheet. Enron later fired the Arthur Andersen accounting firm in the aftermath of the auditor's massive destruction of documents.

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