A boardroom coup last week resulted in outrage, contoversy and a wealthy loser. When the merger between Duke Energy and Progress Energy closed to form an electric utility powerhouse, Progress Energy chief executive Bill Johnson took over as CEO of the new entity as had been announced eighteen months prior. He then found out the deal appointing him boss was apparently a sham by the Duke board when they immediately replaced him with their own CEO Jim Rogers.
Johnson was CEO for 20 minutes and by resigning once he was informed of the board’s decision he was “entitled to collect a $10.3 million severance,” according to the Charlotte Observer. That payment was part of a total $44.4 million in payments for momentary job, according to The Wall Street Journal which has driven the coverage of this story.
The Progress board members who had agreed to the merger were completely taken by surprise. One of them, John Mullin III, wrote the to say, ““In my opinion this is the most blatant example of corporate deceit that I have witnessed during a long career on Wall Street and as a director of ten publicly traded companies.”