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Progress CEO May Get $44.7 Million After Exit From Duke

Progress Energy Inc. Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson, who unexpectedly resigned after Duke Energy Corp. completed its takeover of the company, may collect as much as $44.7 million after his exit.

The total includes $12.7 million for pension benefits and deferred compensation, $14.3 million for vested stock awards, a possible $7.4 million payment for taxes and as much as $10.3 million for severance, bonus and lump-sum payments, according to regulatory filings and Tom Williams, a spokesman for Duke Energy.

Duke’s $17.8 billion takeover of Progress, announced in January 2011, created the largest U.S. utility owner by market value. The day after the merger closed, Duke announced Johnson’s resignation under “mutual agreement.” Standard & Poor’s Rating Services said July 3 it was placing Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke on negative credit watch after “the abrupt change in executive leadership.”

Johnson, 58, has been the chairman and CEO of Raleigh, North Carolina-based Progress since 2007. Under terms of the takeover, Johnson was supposed to become president and CEO of the combined companies. Instead, Duke Chairman and CEO James Rogers, 64, will continue in those roles.

Johnson was entitled to some of the money under his retirement plan and other portions of it were tied to achievement of the company’s performance goals, Williams said in a phone interview today.

Johnson will get $12.7 million for his accrued and unpaid benefits under Progress Energy’s retirement and deferred compensation plans, according to a June 29 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

He will receive as much as $14.3 million in accelerated vesting of his restricted and performance stock awards, according to regulatory filings. In addition, he may be eligible for a $7.4 million payment for excise and gross-up taxes, said Williams.

Duke fell 0.2 percent to $68.57 at the close in New York.

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