• U.S.

Business: Registration Without Surrender

2 minute read

For 14 months over $11,000,000,000 worth of U. S. utilitarians only glared whenever the Securities & Exchange Commission made its stock appeal to their better selves—that by hushing their high-priced lawyers and registering under the Public Utility Act they could take advantage of the easy money market. Last month SEC’s old argument gained new point with Judge Mack’s decision in the Electric Bond & Share case (TIME, Feb. 8), which enabled a utility to register with SEC without thereby admitting the constitutionality of the Act’s more dreaded provisions. Not slow to underscore this ruling was SEC’s Chairman James McCauley Landis. In a long press conference he again called on the holding companies to set foot in the paths of peace, forsake the “Liberty League lawyers.” including John W. Davis, “who believe they can thwart national political thought by obtuse legal advice.” Last week not one but two of the biggest utility holding companies in the U. S.— North American Co. with assets of $891,000,000, American Water Works & Electric Co. with $434,000,000—notified their stockholders that it would be in their best interests to withdraw all litigation against the Utility Act and to register with SEC forthwith. Beaming at this unexpected pleasure. Chairman Landis read to newshawks a letter of congratulation he had written North American’s President James F. Fogarty, acknowledging the utilities’ right to challenge any SEC action once they were registered. As he finished, in strode grey old Henry Hobart Porter, elder brother of National Distillers’ Seton Porter and President of American Water Works. “Congratulations, Mr. Porter,” said Mr. Landis, “I am telling the press that everything I said to Mr. Fogarty in his letter will be applicable to you.”

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