Merger under a microscope

August 6, 2012 

In choosing an attorney and a law firm to lead the state’s investigation of the Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger, the N.C. Utilities Commission has reached out to a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, Anton Valukas. He’s the chairman of a 450-person firm and was the bankruptcy examiner in the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The public can expect that Valukas will get to the bottom of the firestorm that followed the ousting of Progress CEO Bill Johnson from the top spot in the merged company and the reinstatement of Duke’s Jim Rogers as CEO.

The commission had approved the merger based on the assumption that, as the companies had announced, Johnson would run the day-to-day operation and Rogers would become chairman. Duke maintains Johnson just wasn’t a good fit and that Progress had problems with him in charge. Johnson and his defenders say that’s not the case.

It’s important that the merger, creating the nation’s largest utility, pass re-inspection as serving the public interest. Valukas’ job is to get the answers needed by the commission.

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