Jeffrey Skilling, Kenneth Lay, Andrew Fastow, Lou Pai, Sherron Watkins
13 August 1954 (age 66), Kirksville, Missouri, United States
Rebecca P. Mark-Jusbasche (born August 13, 1954, Kirksville, Missouri), known during her international business career as Rebecca Mark, is best known as the former head of Enron International, a subsidiary of Enron. She was also CEO of Azurix Corp., a publicly traded water services company originally developed by Enron International. Mark was promoted to Vice Chairman of Enron in 1998 and was a member of its board of directors. She resigned from Enron in August 2000.
Early life, education, and early career
Mark was born Rebecca Sue Pulliam in Kirksville, Missouri, and grew up on a farm. She attended William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri for two years. She then transferred to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where she received a BA in psychology in 1976, and a Masters Degree in International Management in 1977.
Pulliam began her career in Houston, Texas, at First City National Bank. She married Thomas Mark, and had twin sons; the couple later divorced. In 1982 she joined an energy company called Continental Resources, which eventually became part of Enron. In 1988 Mark entered Harvard Business School while working part-time for Enron, and received an MBA in 1990.
Career at Enron
Mark had started in a finance position for Enron's predecessor company's pipeline businesses in 1982. By 1986 she joined a small group within Enron developing cogeneration and independent power plants using natural gas. After a two-year stint working part-time for Enron while attending Harvard Business School, she returned to Houston and became head of the newly formed Enron Development Corp. in 1991, developing and building power assets in North America and internationally.
As Enron grew, Mark was responsible for its global power and pipeline assets outside of North America. Enron Development Corp. became Enron International in 1993, and Mark became Enron International's CEO in 1996, developing and operating power and pipeline assets around the globe and greatly expanding Enron’s global portfolio. In 1998 and 1999, Mark was listed as one of Fortune's "50 Most Powerful Women" in American business.
Ideological conflict and rivalry within Enron arose between Mark, who specialized in hard assets and facilities, and fellow top executive Jeff Skilling, who pushed for the company to develop and expand its financial trading and risk management sectors instead. Skilling's goals eventually proved to be popular with Enron's Chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay, and with its board of directors. This goal adversely affected Mark's business sector, since Skilling wanted to sell off assets to fund his trading sector. The board eventually saw Mark’s utility asset businesses as a drag on the company’s return potential, and sought to further expand Enron's financial trading businesses while selling off its assets.
One of Mark's and Enron International's largest projects was the Dabhol Power Company project in India. Enron and the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) agreed in December 1993 to build the Dabhol Power Station, a two-phase project capable of producing 2,015 MW of power using naphtha and liquefied natural gas (LNG). The cost was estimated at $2.8 billion, and the MSEB agreed to buy 90% of the power produced by the plant. Financing was in place and construction was underway in 1995, when the BJP, the main national opposition party, won state elections in Maharashtra and opposed the plant. Allegations against Enron of bribery and human-rights abuses, although never substantiated, led to cancellation of Enron's contract. Mark and her team renegotiated with the Indian government, which agreed to a reinstatement of the contract in February 1996, and the project resumed construction.
By 2000, the Dabhol plant was nearly complete and Phase 1 had begun producing power. Enron as a whole, however, was heavily overextended, and in the summer of that year Mark and all the key executives at Enron International were asked to resign from Enron in an effort to reshape the company and get rid of asset businesses. Shortly thereafter a payment dispute with MSEB ensued, and Enron issued a stop-work order on the plant in June 2001. Enron executives were unable to resolve the payment conflict with Indian government officials, and by December 2001 the Enron scandal and bankruptcy cut short any opportunity to revive the construction and complete the plant. Enron had invested $900 million in Dabhol and lost most of it; GE and Bechtel purchased Enron's equity position in the project in bankruptcy court. In 2005, an Indian government-run company, Ratnagiri Gas and Power, was set up to finish construction on the Dabhol facility and operate the plant.
In 1998, Mark led Enron to form an international water company, Azurix, starting with the purchase of its main asset, British water utility Wessex Water. Azurix was controlled by Enron through Atlantic Water Trust. Azurix went public with an IPO in June 1999. According to Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, authors of The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron, with Azurix barely off the ground, Enron quickly "sucked out over $1 billion in cash while loading it up with debt." Additionally, British water regulators required the company to cut its rates by 12% starting in April 2000, and an upgrade was required of the utility's aging infrastructure, estimated at costing over a billion dollars. By the end of 2000 Azurix had an operating profit of less than $100 million and was $2 billion in debt. In August 2000, after Azurix stock took a plunge following its earnings report, Mark resigned from Azurix and Enron when it became apparent she had no internal support from Enron or its board, both of which had switched to focusing on financial trading instead of industrial assets. Azurix assets, including Wessex, were eventually sold by Enron.
Mark's exit from Enron in August 2000 was at a fortunate time, when Enron's stock was at its peak; she sold her stock for $82.5 million long before the company collapsed in 2001. She was never accused of wrongdoing in the ensuing series of scandals and prosecutions.
Since 2000, she has been president of Resource Development Partners, which invests in water, energy technology, and agricultural projects, including Dredgit Environmental, which specializes in removing sediment and sludge from water resources. She also owns and operates cattle ranches in New Mexico and Colorado, raising organic produce, grass-fed beef, and horses. She is involved with the Telluride Foundation, serves on the board of the Hermann Park Conservancy in Houston, and has been a longtime investor and board member of WaterHealth International.
Mark married Michael Jusbasche in October 1999, and hyphenated her name to Rebecca Mark-Jusbasche. She has twin sons from her first marriage, and after her second marriage in 1999, she adopted a two-year-old boy from Kazakhstan.