CHICAGO (AP) _ Arthur Andersen LLP is said to be offering hundreds of millions of dollars to settle with Enron shareholders, creditors and employees and prevent the debacle from putting the accounting firm out of business.
USA Today reported Wednesday that Andersen, Enron's accountants, has floated early settlement figures of $260 million to resolve fraud claims brought in a class-action lawsuit brought by Enron shareholders.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Andersen is offering between $700 million and $800 million in a possible settlement with shareholders, creditors and employees of Enron.
The newspapers said Andersen's attempt to negotiate a settlement began more than a week ago.
``We remain confident we can work through this successfully,'' Andersen said in a statement Wednesday. ``Reaching out to the groups affected in this case is consistent with our commitment to address the issue raised by Enron's collapse in a straightforward and constructive manner.''
Enron collapsed into bankruptcy in December in an accounting scandal. Andersen has acknowledged destroying Enron-related documents.
The Journal said Andersen's lawyers and financial advisers hope to negotiate a deal that would include shareholders who saw their holdings dwindle in value to almost nothing; Enron unsecured creditors, who are owed billions of dollars; and current and former Enron employees who lost 401(k) plan holdings that were heavily invested in Enron stock.
In addition, the newspaper said, Andersen wants the settlement to encompass any potential civil claims by federal agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission.