But the surprise ouster of the CEO several hours into the completed Duke Energy- Progress Energy mega-merger has all the signs of a particularly awful deal. Even as news spread of the completed $32 billion merger, creating the nation’s largest electric utility, a corporate takeover in the corner office was underway.
The deal originally called for Bill Johnson, the head of Progress to become the CEO of the merged companies, but shortly after the deal closed, Johnson took the job then promptly stepped down “by mutual agreement,” according to a press release. Johnson had held the title for several hours before being relieved, prompting “CEO for a day” headlines.
Taking over was James Rogers, the former CEO of Duke Energy, who most people assumed would step down once the merger became official. Corporate coups are not unusual, but one so quickly after a deal closes certainly raises eyebrows.
The fallout has been immediate. All of the good will built up over the past 18 months to convince shareholders and regulators that this was a good deal is gone. Several regulators are already launching investigations into the shuffle.