Enron Could Pay More Bonuses to Retain Needed Staff

Fallen energy trading giant Enron Corp. (ENRNQ.PK) may pay further retention bonuses to key employees considered vital to its plans to emerge from bankruptcy, a company spokesman said on Friday.

Previous rounds of retention bonuses, in which $105 million went to a limited number of top employees, have angered thousands of Enron workers who lost their jobs and their retirement savings in the collapse of company.

Enron spokesman Vance Meyer said interim Chief Executive Officer Stephen Cooper was discussing the possibility of a new round of bonuses with the company's creditors.

Meyer said he could not provide further details but added that any such decision would have to be approved by Enron's creditors committee and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzalez.

"A proposal like this is pretty much standard operating procedure in a bankruptcy where you're trying to get back on your feet and trying to retain people," he said.

Retention bonuses totaling $50 million were paid out to about 75 top Enron employees in November as part of a merger agreement between Enron and Dynegy Inc. (DYN.N) that later fell apart.

A further $55 million was paid out to some 500 employees just a few days before Enron filed for bankruptcy, to persuade them to stay on as the company was reorganized.

Meyer also said that in time, as some Enron businesses are sold and others scaled down, the company expects to leave its 50-story headquarters building in downtown Houston for smaller premises.

The company has already won court approval to complete work on a 40-story building under construction so that it can be sold off to raise money for creditors.

Interim Chief Executive Cooper has indicated that if he succeeds in his goal of building a new company, it will likely adopt a new name.

"There's somewhat of a taint with the Enron name," he said in an interview with ABC News that was broadcast on the Good Morning America show this week.