Wednesday, March 03, 2004

The news has hit the street 

Halliburton: Cheney--Risk Factor

Feb. 9 issue - Halliburton, the big contracting company that Dick Cheney used to run, is now warning investors that its Cheney connection is what Wall Street calls a "risk factor." No, the company's not talking about the multibillion-dollar asbestos liability that it got stuck with thanks to the Cheney-orchestrated takeover of Dresser Industries. Rather, Halliburton says, the Cheney connection has caused "intense scrutiny" of its operations. "Since [Cheney's] nomination as vice president," the company said in a recent SEC filing, "Halliburton has been and continues to be the focus of allegations, some of which appear to be made for political reasons by political adversaries of the vice president and the current Bush administration. We expect that this focus and these allegations will continue and possibly intensify as the 2004 elections draw nearer."

The one-paragraph Cheney item, first noted by Michelle Leder's footnoted.org financial-news blog, is buried in 26 pages of risk factors that range from subsidiaries' bankruptcy proceedings to contract disputes over an oilfield off the coast of Brazil. Cheney's office referred all comment to Halliburton, which said this is the first time it has included a Cheney-risk item in its SEC filings. "Management made the decision to include these statements because of the politically charged environment in which we now operate," company spokesman Wendy Hall said in an e-mail. "Times have changed since the vice president left the company and we understand it is an election year." The bottom line: when you hire a rainmaker CEO like Cheney, you've got to be ready to mop up the puddles he leaves behind.

—Allan Sloan


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