Pulte Chief Dugas Adds Operating Officer Duties as Petruska Leaves Builder

PulteGroup Inc. Chief Executive Officer Richard Dugas will take over responsibility for homebuilding operations after Chief Operating Officer Steven Petruska leaves the company Aug. 14.

The COO position is being eliminated, PulteGroup said today in a statement announcing Petruska, 51, would retire after 26 years with the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based builder. Pulte became the largest U.S. residential developer by sales when it bought Dallas-based Centex Corp. for $3.3 billion last year.

“With the Centex merger integration essentially complete, we are electing to flatten PulteGroup’s structure,” Dugas said in the statement.

New home sales fell after the deadline to qualify for a federal tax credit expired. Contracts had to be signed by April 30. U.S. new home sales dropped 33 percent to the lowest level on record in May, the Commerce Department said June 23.

PulteGroup said May 5 it closed 3,795 home sales in the first quarter of this year, down 30 percent from the 5,440 sales Pulte and Centex reported separately during the same period of 2009.

PulteGroup’s shares fell 12 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $7.93 at 4:01 p.m. New York time on the New York Stock Exchange.

“I have had an amazing journey with PulteGroup,” Petruska said in the statement. “Given that we are ahead of schedule with many of our merger activities and our key business initiatives are on track, this is the right time for me to retire.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Louis in Chicago at blouis1@bloomberg.net.

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