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Progress Energy CEO resigns as merger with Duke Energy finalized

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TWC News: Progress Energy CEO resigns as merger with Duke Energy finalized
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CHARLOTTE -- Duke Energy and Progress Energy completed their merger to form the nation's largest electric company. The news was officially announced Tuesday morning. While the merger was not a surprise, the decision on who will lead the company is.

The former Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson was tapped to lead the combined company as president and CEO but he's out after what's being called a "mutual agreement."

During a conference call Duke's lead director Ann Maynard Gray thanked Johnson for his year's of service at Progress Energy and announced that he resigned. She added they wouldn't talk further about it.

Some analysts thought many Progress executives loyal to Johnson would leave as well. But in the call, Jim Rogers, who will now take on the CEO title for the combined company, said he spoke with Progress executives Monday night and talked about the future of the company. Rogers added the new Duke starts day one from a position of strength.

"In today's rising cost environment, the new Duke Energy will be better able to serve our 7.1 million customers energy needs in a reliable, affordable and increasingly clean manner," he said.

Johnson's departure from the company is apparently a last minute development as he was apparently being prepped as recently as Monday to talk about the merger.

"That is a surprise, Bill Johnson looking for a house in Charlotte," said UNC Charlotte economist Peter Schwarz. "Even yesterday there was no knowledge of this."

Schwarz says the leadership change was a shocker and might leave many in Raleigh unnerved.

"From Raleigh's standpoint, this has to create some additional discomfort on just how much presence the combined company will have in the Raleigh area," he said.

Schwarz adds the completed merger for Charlotte, however, is good news making the Queen City the energy capital of the country.

"Having the largest utility in the country is going to bring a lot of focus here," he said.

Despite the controversy surrounding the leadership change, Rogers says it's time to move forward starting with day one of the new Duke Energy.

"We are not two teams today, we are one company," he said.

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