Duke takes steps toward shifting focus away from energy trading

CHARLOTTE, NC: Duke Energy's new IRO Greg Ebel is focused on reminding Wall Street about the diversity of the company's energy businesses.

CHARLOTTE, NC: Duke Energy's new IRO Greg Ebel is focused on reminding Wall Street about the diversity of the company's energy businesses.

That strategy comes as a pall of distrust continues to hang over the sector following the collapse of Enron and subsequent revelations about market manipulation in the energy-trading market. Duke said the challenge is to make investors realize that it continues to run other staid cash-producing businesses outside of energy trading.

"Much of where the concerns have arisen has been with respect to the trading business - basically the Enron model," said Ebel. "We have to build upon what we have that isn't trading-related, like our regulated utility and pipeline businesses, and make people realize how valuable they are."

Ebel said he also hopes to elucidate the fact that Duke ran a more conservative trading operation than many others. "We must let people know that we didn't operate our trading business as some others did," he said.

Nevertheless, "it will be an incremental process of rebuilding confidence," Ebel added. "It's the old adage that it takes a lifetime to build a reputation, and five minutes to lose it."

Ebel came to Duke when it acquired Westcoast Energy, where he was responsible for M&A. "A large part of M&A is gaining the trust and confidence of the party at the other end of the transaction, and IR also centers on trust," he said.

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