SaskPower U.S. Debt: Hedging Currency Exposure
On December 19, 2002, the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Power Corporation (SaskPower) was contemplating the approval of the company's 2003 foreign exchange strategy to manage long-term currency risk exposure in the utility's U.S. dollar debt. SaskPower had borrowed extensively in the early 1990s, with maturities ranging from 10 to 30 years. The U.S. dollar exchange rate against the Canadian dollar had since increased, thereby increasing the effective burden of the debt and reducing the utility's net income. A change in accounting practices implemented in 2001 required SaskPower to recognize as a gain or a loss in the current year any translation differences in the value of its outstanding U.S. dollar debt resulting from fluctuations in the exchange rate during the year. This policy change led to a significant reduction in net income in 2001, followed by a significant increase during the first eight months of 2002. The volatility in earnings had complicated the task of setting rates for electricity and had proved politically difficult to justify. In late 2002, SaskPower had to decide whether and how to hedge its currency exposure in outstanding U.S. dollar debt.