AEP Names Akins President; Morris Stays Chairman, CEO

American Electric Power Co., the biggest U.S. coal consumer, named Nicholas K. Akins as president, assuming one of the titles held by Michael G. Morris, who intends to retire as chief executive officer next year,

Akins, 50, currently oversees all of American Electric’s power plants as executive vice president for generation, the Columbus, Ohio-based company said in a statement today. Morris, who serves as president, chairman and CEO, plans to retire when he turns 65 on Nov. 11.

Morris has said the person named president was expected to become CEO upon his retirement, Melissa McHenry, a company spokeswoman, said in an e-mail today.

Morris shifted spending to power lines from new generating plants, betting on the demand for wind-generated electricity and more efficient transmission. The company formed joint ventures with Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. and other utility owners to extend its 39,000-mile (63,000-kilometer) high-voltage network, already the longest in the U.S.

Akins will begin as president on Jan. 1, the company said. American Electric began shuffling senior executives as early as 2006 to broaden experience among an internal pool of successors.

Before today, American Electric shares had risen 18 percent since Morris took over as CEO on Jan. 1, 2004, compared with a gain of 34 percent by the 14-company Standard & Poor’s 500 Electric Utilities Index.

American Electric supplies power to more than 5 million homes and businesses in 11 states, according to its website. Its plants can generate about 38,000 megawatts, enough for 30 million typical homes, based on a U.S. Energy Department estimate.

American Electric fell 3 cents to $35.96 in at 4 p.m. New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has 12 buy recommendations from analysts and 10 holds. American Electric has risen 3.4 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Polson in New York at jpolson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jessica Resnick-Ault at jresnickault@bloomberg.net.

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