Progress CEO quits, Duke chief to run combined company

Tue Jul 3, 2012 6:35pm EDT
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By Michael Erman and Ernest Scheyder

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Duke Energy Corp, which closed its $18 billion buyout of Progress Energy this week, said Progress Chief Executive Bill Johnson had resigned and would not be taking the top job at the combined company as had been planned.

Duke CEO Jim Rogers, 64, has become president and CEO of the combined entity, while remaining chairman, the company said on Tuesday. Rogers said in an interview that he had been officially notified of his new role after board deliberations on Monday afternoon.

"I have done two combinations before. The first focus must be on bringing the companies together and empowering the leaders to move forward, capture the synergies and make sure at the same time we continue to provide affordable and reliable service," Rogers said.

Duke said Johnson's resignation was by "mutual agreement." Johnson, 58, could not be reached for comment.

The company and its lead director, Ann Maynard Gray, declined to give any further background about Johnson's resignation.

Johnson would be given a severance payment of $7.4 million, which is three times his annual base salary and annual cash bonus as of July 3, Duke said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

He would also receive $1.4 million in cash as his target annual cash bonus for 2012, the company said in the filing.

In exchange, Johnson is expected to release all of his claims against the company.   Continued...

Chief Executive Officer of Duke Energy Jim Rogers speaks during the Charlotte Chamber's Economic Outlook Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina December 19, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Keane