$32B energy merger completed
RALEIGH, N.C. — Duke Energy Corp. and Progress Energy Inc. said Tuesday they had completed their merger now valued about $32 billion to form the nation's largest electric company. But the normally routine event came with a twist.
Bill Johnson, who was tapped to lead the combined company as president and chief executive, has decided to leave by “mutual agreement,” the companies said.
Duke CEO Jim Rogers, who was expected to be executive chairman, has instead been named CEO of the new company.
“This is day one and we're all one group of employees,” Rogers said in an interview. “They see what I see which is a belief in the long-term proposition of this combination. We put together the largest utility in this country. We see tremendous opportunities. We have a deep bench of capable people that can deliver.”
Whether it was Johnson or the company's board that had a last-minute change of heart is unclear. But as late as Monday, Duke staffers were describing Johnson as the pending CEO. The company declined to answer questions about the switch.
On June 8, Duke won federal approval for the merger announced in January 2011. The North Carolina Utilities Commission voted in favor of the deal last week. South Carolina's Public Service Commission approved an agreement Monday.
The combined company will serve about more than 7 million customers in North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Florida and South Carolina.