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08 January 2019, 07:48 | Austin Hogan
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State Senator Jerry Hill, an outspoken PG&E critic, saidthe utility previously raised the possibility of a bankruptcy filing as leverage when seeking state assistance in paying its wildfire liabilities.
S&P also kept PG&E's ratings on credit watch negative and said it could further lower PG&E's rating over the next few months if explicit steps are not taken by authorities to improve the regulatory compact.
Earlier on Monday, PG&E shares dived more than 22 percent and its largest bond, a $3 billion note due in March 2034 with a coupon of 6.05 percent, fell to a record-low bid price of 91.5 cents on the dollar, while its yield rose to almost 7 percent.
"The market is overreacting to bankruptcy concerns given the public statements we've heard from regulators and politicians", Travis Miller, a Chicago-based analyst at Morningstar Inc., said in an interview Monday.
The company is considering the move as a contingency, in part because it could soon take a significant financial charge for the fourth quarter of 2018 related to liabilities from the blazes, the sources said.
The agency also said it expects PG&E's capital access may be limited to secured debt issuance, restricting its financing options, because of the increased credit risks, and media speculation on a potential bankruptcy.
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As of Friday, PG&E was shying away from negotiating so-called debtor-in-possession financing that companies typically line up before a bankruptcy filing to help keep operating while under court protection, one source familiar with the matter said.
The company said on Friday that it was reviewing its "structural options" and assessing its operations, finances, management, structure and governance.
Over the last two years, the massive number of severe wildfires in California have placed insurance companies in the state under serious financial pressure.
However, the company said its board of directors is looking for new members and engaging outside experts for advice on wildfire safety. PG&E reported an outage around the time and place that the fire ignited.
Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. could face billions of dollars in potential liability involving massive wildfires in California - some of which have already been linked to equipment operated by the company.
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