Mate & Switch: What Happened at Duke Energy?

Photo by Colin Kinner. Some rights reserved.

That’s the question the North Carolina Utilities Commission is asking. The NCUC has scheduled additional hearings on Thursday and Friday to ask questions and listen to testimony from several board members and executives from Duke regarding its recently completed merger with Progress Energy.  

The merger, which underwent a lengthy consideration process with multiple regulators over the past year and was approved by the NCUC on June 29th, closed on July 2nd. A day later, Duke announced that its CEO prior to the merger, Jim Rogers, would be the CEO of the new company. The problem? Prior to that announcement, documents filed with the SEC indicated that the new company’s CEO would be Bill Johnson, then CEO of Progress Energy. Johnson’s Duke CEO employment agreement became effective on July 2nd, and on July 3rd, according to his separation agreement (both included in an 8-K filing with the SEC), he resigned “…from his employment with Duke Energy, from his position as a member of the Board of Directors of Duke Energy, and from all other positions …  with respect to Duke Energy and its subsidiaries or affiliates.”  The circumstances around the switch remain nebulous – a mystery that the North Carolina regulators are hoping to get to the bottom of at this week’s hearings. Last week, Jim Rogers testified that Duke’s board had misgivings about Johnson as the closing of the deal drew near. It remains to be seen what Johnson will have to say about his sudden departure when he testifies later this week.

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