Monday PM February 7th, 2011

Continental Airlines laying off 500 from Houston headquarters…Ensco will buy pride international for 7.31 billion…Kinder Morgan plans record-breaking 2.2 billion IPO…Lt. Gov. Dewhurst announces state Senate hearings into last week’s power outages…

United Continental Holdings is eliminating up to 500 jobs from Continental Airlines’ Houston headquarters. It’s the latest development in Continental’s merger with United Airlines. The cuts are focusing on management and accounting positions, which the new company will handle out of Chicago. Spokeswoman Julie King says the notices filed with the State of Texas were needed because pay is running out on March 31 for those losing their jobs in Houston. About 3,000 people worked at Continental headquarters before the merger. The air carrier says it will let the employees go between April 1 and June 30.

London-based offshore oil rig operator Ensco says it will buy Houston-based Pride International in a deal valued at about $7.31 billion. When the deal closes, Pride stockholders collectively will own about 38% of Ensco’s outstanding shares. The $41.60-per-share offer price is a 21% premium to Pride’s closing price on Friday. The estimated value of the combined company is $16 billion.

Houston-based Kinder Morgan’s planned new stock offering this week could break records. It also could spur more private equity firms to get returns on many of their investments. If successful, the initial public offering will be the biggest of a U-S. energy company in more than a decade. At a projected $2.2 billion, it would also be the largest-ever private equity backed U.S. IPO, surpassing Nielsen Holdings’ IPO last month.

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst said two state senate committees will hold hearings into why Texas experienced power outages last week and urged electric companies to prepare for more cold weather on Wednesday. Dewhurst said 82 out of 550 power plants “went down principally due to a lack of adequate weatherization.” Tens of thousands of Texans across the state lost power as temperatures dipped into the teens. Dewhurst was acting governor last week when state regulatory agency ERCOT ordered the outages to prevent a complete collapse of the grid.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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