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Robert Glynn

During the energy deregulation boom of the late 1990s, PG&E Corp. (PCG) Chairman and CEO Robert D. Glynn Jr. launched an energy-trading business to compete with Enron Corp. He sent salesmen out to call on other utilities' customers. And he paid fat prices for old power plants far from his San Francisco base. But none of those bets paid off. Instead, Glynn, 60, had to put his core utility into bankruptcy in 2001 after California's deregulation law left him paying far more for power than he collected from customers. When electricity prices fell, Glynn put his diversified businesses into bankruptcy, too. Under a proposed reorganization plan, PG&E will give creditors $7.6 billion of assets, including profit-able pipelines that shareholders owned for years. A spokesman notes PG&E stock has outperformed the average utility during Glynn's tenure. But there's a lesson in his two trips to bankruptcy court: In a commodity business, it pays to hedge.

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