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Enron Corp. lost its bid on Wednesday to protect the potential buyer of NewPower Holdings Inc. from any future Enron-related tax or pension plan liability tied to the Houston energy company’s 44 percent stake in NewPower. Judge Arthur Gonzalez of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York denied Enron’s motion to enjoin the Internal Revenue Service and the Pension Benefits Guarantee Corp. from ever attaching the Enron-related NewPower stake under the proposed $56.5 million sale of those assets to Centrica of the U.K. Enron’s sale of its NewPower equity hinges upon court approval that shields Centrica’s Windsor Acquisition unit from any liability tied to NewPower’s 1999 incorporation as a wholly owned unit of Enron Energy Services, according to Enron filings. Enron had argued in its request earlier this month that failure to provide such protection to the Centrica unit could undermine the deal since it would hurt NewPower’s already deteriorating financial condition. Lead defense counsel, New York-based Weil, Gotshal & Manges, declined to comment on whether the ruling could undermine Enron’s plans to sell its NewPower stake. Enron spun off the stake in January 2000. The total value of the NewPower sale to Centrica is $130 million and includes Centrica’s proposed purchase of NewPower stock from other holders, including GE Capital Equity Investments Inc. “Right now Centrica and NewPower are considering our positions,” said NewPower spokeswoman Terri Cohen. Copyright (c)2002 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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