Ringfencing

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Ringfencing'

When a regulated public utility business financially separates itself from a parent company that engages in non-regulated business. This is done mainly to protect consumers of essential services such as power, water and basic telecommunications from financial instability or bankruptcy in the parent company resulting from losses in their open market activites. Ringfencing also keeps customer information within the public utility business private from the for-profit efforts of the parent company's other business.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Ringfencing'

The parent company can also benefit from ringfencing; bond investors prefer to see public utilities ringfenced because it implies greater safety in the bonds. Also, the parent company is usually freer to grow its non-regulated business segments once a ringfence is in place. Individual states are chiefly involved with ringfencing utilities within their borders, as no federal mandate is currently in place requiring that all public services be ringfenced.

A high-profile success story on ringfencing occurred during the Enron meltdown of 2001-2002; Enron acquired Oregon-based Portland General Electric in 1997, but the local power generator was ringfenced by the state of Oregon prior to the acquisition being completed. This protected Portland General Electric's assets, and its consumers, when Enron declared bankruptcy amidst massive accounting scandals.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Utility

    1. An economic term referring to the total satisfaction received ...
  2. Parent Company

    A company that controls other companies by owning an influential ...
  3. Chinese Wall

    The ethical barrier between different divisions of a financial ...
  4. Enronomics

    A fraudulent accounting technique that involves a parent company ...
  5. Insider Information

    A non-public fact regarding the plans or condition of a publicly ...
  6. Cape Cod Method

    A method used to calculate loss reserves that uses weights proportional ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What are some examples of a deferred tax liability?

    In the United States, laws allow companies to maintain two separate sets of books for financial and tax purposes. Because ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Why is the use of contra accounts so important for maintaining ledgers?

    Contra accounts have been used in financial accounting to verify the balance of another corresponding account since Renaissance ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What impact did the Sarbanes-Oxley Act have on corporate governance in the United ...

    After a prolonged period of corporate scandals involving large public companies from 2000 to 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How is deferred revenue treated under accrual accounting?

    In accrual accounting, deferred revenue, or unearned revenue, represents a liability on the balance sheet recorded on funds ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of absorption costing?

    Companies must choose between using absorption costing or variable costing in their accounting systems. There are advantages ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between the cost of capital and the discount rate?

    The cost of capital refers to the actual cost of financing business activity through either debt or equity capital. The discount ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Active Trading

    Guard Your Portfolio With Defensive Stocks

    Find out how these securities can protect you from a market bust.
  2. Options & Futures

    Common Bond-Buying Mistakes

    Avoid these errors made daily in bond portfolios everywhere.
  3. Bonds & Fixed Income

    An Overview Of Corporate Bankruptcy

    If a company files for bankruptcy, stockholders have the most to lose. Find out why.
  4. Investing

    What is Comprehensive Income?

    Comprehensive income is a part of the owners’ equity section of the balance sheet.
  5. Economics

    Explaining Financial Analysis

    Financial analysis is a general term that refers to using financial data to make business and investment decisions.
  6. Economics

    What Does Debit Mean?

    Debit is an accounting term used to refer to the left side of an accounting journal entry. Each debit must be offset by an equal credit entry.
  7. Taxes

    What's an Audit?

    An audit is an objective examination of accounting records that makes sure the records are a fair and accurate representation of the transactions they claim to represent.
  8. Economics

    What are Accounting Principles?

    The term accounting principles refers to rules and guidelines companies use to help them record their business and financial transactions.
  9. Economics

    Understanding the Accounting Cycle

    An accounting cycle consists of the traditional procedures performed to record business events and transactions in a company’s accounting records.
  10. Fundamental Analysis

    When & Why Should a Company Use LIFO

    By using LIFO (last in, first out) when prices are rising, companies reduce their taxes and also better match revenues to their latest costs.

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Fracking

    A slang term for hydraulic fracturing. Fracking refers to the procedure of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations ...
  2. Mixed Economic System

    An economic system that features characteristics of both capitalism and socialism.
  3. Net Worth

    The amount by which assets exceed liabilities. Net worth is a concept applicable to individuals and businesses as a key measure ...
  4. Stop-Loss Order

    An order placed with a broker to sell a security when it reaches a certain price. A stop-loss order is designed to limit ...
  5. Covered Call

    An options strategy whereby an investor holds a long position in an asset and writes (sells) call options on that same asset ...
  6. Butterfly Spread

    A neutral option strategy combining bull and bear spreads. Butterfly spreads use four option contracts with the same expiration ...
Trading Center