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PG&E to Plan $11 Billion Fund to Settle Wildfire Claims

Scott Deveau and Mark Chediak
PG&E to Plan $11 Billion Fund to Settle Wildfire Claims

(Bloomberg) -- PG&E Corp. has spoken to lawmakers about putting together a pool of capital worth about $11 billion to settle claims related to wildfires blamed on the bankrupt California utility, according to people familiar with the matter.

The utility has considered the plan in consultation with law firm Jones Day and boutique investment bank PJT Partners Inc., which are advising a group of PG&E’s equity holders that recently helped overhaul its board and appoint Bill Johnson as chief executive officer, the people said.

The holders include Knighthead Capital Management, Redwood Capital Management and Abrams Capital Management, which collectively own about 10% of PG&E’s shares.

The plan calls for PG&E to set up a special purpose vehicle into which it would redirect about $400 million a year in earnings, the people said. The fund would help finance a pool of capital that would earmark about $8 billion to settle wildfire claims from 2017 and 2018, one of the people said. At least another $3 billion would be earmarked for future claims, the person said.

The proposal wouldn’t require assistance from the state, taxpayers or customers of the utility, the person said. It also wouldn’t address any claims from the 2017 Tubbs fire or others that regulators determined PG&E wasn’t responsible for, the people said. Details of the plan haven’t been finalized and the terms may still change, they said.

A representative for PG&E declined to comment. Representatives for PJT Partners and Jones Day didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

PG&E’s suggestion is an alternative to a plan being developed by an adhoc committee of the company’s senior unsecured noteholders. That group is being led by Pacific Investment Management Co., Elliott Management Corp. and Davidson Kempner Management.

The creditor’s $47.5 billion plan for the utility to emerge from bankruptcy includes up to $28.5 billion in new capital from the group, according to people familiar the matter. It also proposes an $18 billion cash trust to cover claims tied to the deadly wildfires that forced the utility to declare bankruptcy, the people said. An additional $20 billion fund for future wildfires would be financed by PG&E and other California utilities, they said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Scott Deveau in New York at sdeveau2@bloomberg.net;Mark Chediak in San Francisco at mchediak@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Elizabeth Fournier at efournier5@bloomberg.net;Lynn Doan at ldoan6@bloomberg.net

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