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CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) — The Progress Energy chief executive whose sudden departure was announced hours after the merger creating America’s largest electric utility is getting a big payout.

Duke Energy reports to the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it’s paying former Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson as much as $10.3 million. Johnson was supposed to become CEO of the combined company Tuesday, but resigned suddenly.

Johnson last week signed a three-year employment contract that was supposed to take effect Tuesday.

Duke said in the securities filing first reported by The Charlotte Observer that Johnson gets a severance payout of $7.4 million, 2012 bonus of $1.4 million, and a lump sum of up to $1.5 million.

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers will continue in that role as head of the expanded company.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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