A court approved Enron's reorganization, clearing the way for the notorious but pared-down energy company to emerge from bankruptcy this year.

The company said the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York approved the company's Joint Chapter 11 Plan. Enron's creditors will receive a combination of cash and equity in Prisma Energy International, Enron's international energy asset business.

Allowable claims against the company are expected to be $63 billion, acting CEO Stephen Cooper said. Cash and equity assets available for ultimate distribution are expected to be around $12 billion, he added, not including recoveries from litigation.

"Undoubtedly, this was an extremely complex bankruptcy. Today's court approval acknowledges not only the tremendous amount of work that has been accomplished during the last two and a half years, but also the overwhelming support of our economic constituents," said Cooper. "We still have certain tax and change-of-control issues that need to be resolved before the effective date, but we will continue working diligently to address those issues so that we can begin initial distributions to our creditors as expeditiously as possible."

The approved Joint Chapter 11 Plan assumes the completion of the previously announced sales of Portland General Electric and CrossCountry Energy. Creditors are expected to get 92% cash and 8% equity in Prisma.

The company collapsed in a heap of false profits and hidden debts in late 2001. Ex-CEOs Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling now face prosecution on fraud and conspiracy charges, and former financial chief Andrew Fastow pleaded guilty in January to two conspiracy charges. Lay and Skilling have said they're innocent.

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