Duke: Severance uncertain for 3 execs who quit after Bill Johnson's exit

dranii@newsobserver.comJuly 11, 2012 

It’s unclear whether the three high-level Duke Energy executives who chose to quit in the wake of CEO Bill Johnson’s ouster will receive severance packages.

Duke spokesman Tom Williams said the company would disclose information about any severance packages in next year’s proxy filing, but he declined to say whether the trio are in line for severance. Nor would he say whether they signed non-compete and non-disparagement agreements, as Johnson did.

Those executives, who reported directly to Johnson – and, like Johnson, worked at Progress Energy before the merger – are Mark Mulhern, chief administrative officer; John McArthur, executive vice president of regulated utilities; and Paula Simms, chief integration and innovation officer.

Given that they left voluntarily, severance packages wouldn’t be automatic. However, analyst Hugh Wynne of Bernstein Research wrote in a research note Wednesday that he anticipates that severance packages for Mulhern, McArthur and Simms will be among the “financial consequences” stemming from Johnson’s ouster.

Mulhern, McArthur and Simms couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday or Wednesday.

Progress Energy reported in a regulatory filing last year that two of those executives – McArthur and Mulhern – waived their golden parachutes after they were offered jobs in the combined company. McArthur waived his right to $9.3 million in cash and other benefits; Mulhern waived his right to a $5.1 million payout.

Johnson departed the company with a $44.7 million exit package. That included about $10 million in severance – including up to $1.5 million for agreeing not to disparage the company – as well as stock and deferred compensation that he previously earned.

Rogers pledged at a hearing before the N.C. Utilities Commission this week that none of that payout money would be charged to Duke’s customers in North Carolina. Instead, he said, that payment would be borne by the company’s shareholders.

Ranii: 919-829-4877

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