The Journal Gazette
Friday, November 08, 2019 1:00 am


PG&E sees losses from fires mount

Staff, news services

Pacific Gas & Electric reported another huge loss Thursday as the fallout from California's catastrophic wildfires blamed on its outdated transmission lines drive the bankrupt utility into a deeper hole.

The company estimated it's facing a bill of more than $6 billion this year alone to pay for devastating fires in 2017 and 2018, more rigorous inspection of its electrical equipment, and customer credits for recent blackouts designed to prevent more blazes.

Additionally, PG&E logged a $2.5 billion settlement with insurance companies for the 2017 and 2018 wildfires, bringing its total charges for the fires in those years to $20 billion, according to a filing with regulators.

It added up to a loss of $1.62 billion for the July-September period, a reversal from a profit of $564 million at the same time last year. That's a per-share loss of $3.06, or $1.11 when one-time costs are removed. Revenue was $4.43 billion.

For the first nine months of the year, PG&E's losses totaled $4 billion.

Mattel buried error on books: Report

Mattel Inc.'s finance team and its outside auditor effectively buried an accounting error that affected its financial results in the latter half of 2017, according to a published report.

Finance executives and employees of the auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, discovered the error in early 2018 but it wasn't accurately reflected in Mattel's results until after a whistleblower wrote to the company in August, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday after interviewing Brett Whitaker, who was Mattel's director of tax reporting at the time the error was discovered. Whitaker, who said he was not the whistleblower, resigned from the El Segundo, California, toy giant in March 2018.

Mattel acknowledged the error last week after an investigation and said it was restating its financial results for the third and fourth quarters of 2017. On Wednesday, the company said the error “was not properly assessed when it was discovered, nor were the findings and conclusions documented as they should have been at the time.”

Lincoln Financial: 50 years on NYSE

Lincoln Financial execs, led by President and CEO Dennis Glass, rang the closing bell Thursday at the New York Stock Exchange to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Lincoln's listing on the exchange.

Since being listed in 1969, Lincoln has grown into one of the largest publicly traded life insurance companies in the United States by helping provide financial peace of mind to everyday consumers.

“While much has changed over the past 50 years,” Glass said, “one thing that has remained consistent is Lincoln's focus on helping Americans create a better financial future for themselves.”

Wells Fargo hires ex-White House aide

Wells Fargo & Co.'s new CEO, Charlie Scharf, named Bill Daley, former White House chief of staff, as vice chairman of public affairs to improve relations with Washington, the firm said Thursday in a statement.

Daley's hiring marks Scharf's first major leadership appointment since he took over the embattled San Francisco lender last month. It underscores one of his top challenges: rebuilding trust with regulators as well as federal and local lawmakers who have expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of reforms at the firm.

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