David Crane is stepping down as president and chief executive officer of NRG Energy Inc. after the biggest independent U.S. power producer lost 60 percent of its market value this year.
Crane will be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Mauricio Gutierrez, Princeton, New Jersey-based NRG said in a statement Thursday.
Crane, 56, has served as CEO since 2003 after NRG emerged from bankruptcy. He expanded the company with acquisitions during his tenure and over the past few years attempted to transform the business away from its fossil-fuel generation roots into a clean energy provider.
As the company’s stock was battered amid a broad sell-off of energy stocks this year, investors started to sour on Crane’s spending for new ventures such as its home-solar business. In September, Crane announced a turnaround plan, saying the company would spin-off its green energy businesses and would focus on paying down debt by cutting costs and selling fossil-fuel plants.
“The board may have lost confidence in his ability to manage the company,” said Stacy Nemeroff, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. “Concern over management’s focus on home solar and ability to execute on the reset strategy has been a drag on the stock.”
NRG’s shares slumped Wednesday to the lowest in more than a decade after the company sold a coal-fired power plant in Pennsylvania and a natural gas plant in Illinois at a price that Nemeroff described as “very low.”
Gutierrez has been with NRG since 2004 and also served as COO of NRG Yield Inc., a separately traded company that NRG formed to own and operate power plants.
NRG rose 1.7 percent to $10.97 at the close in New York.