Duke Energy CEO to Get $44 Million in Severance for 3 Days of Work

By Rob Wile

The Wall Street Journal's Joann Lublin, Dan Fitzpatrick and Rebecca Smith have a shocking scoop today on the highly brief but highly lucrative term Bill Johnson served as CEO of a newly created utility giant.

According to their story, Johnson stands to receive up to $44.4 million in severance pay despite having served just three days leading Duke Energy, which recently bought out Johnson's old firm, Progress Energy, to create a utility that will serve more than seven million customers in the Southeast and Midwest.

According to securities filings, the reporters write, Johnson signed his employment contract on June 27, just ahead of the merger's July 2 close. He resigned his post at 12:01 a.m. on July 3.

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The reporters quote sources familiar with the deal that "the board decided [Johnson] wasn't right for the job and instead gave it to Jim Rogers, who ran Duke before the deal."

This, despite the fact that people had known for 18 months Johnson would become CEO of the new firm.

Johnson apparently had no idea the rug was being pulled.

"Mr. Johnson was surprised by the outcome and had very little time to consider the terms of his exit package, one person familiar with the matter said. The Duke spokesman said he believed Mr. Johnson had rented a house in Charlotte but never actually moved in."

But Johnson stands to receive the pay package as a lump-sum payment "as long as he cooperates with Duke and doesn't disparage his former employer," according to a filing cited by The WSJ.

Read the full story on WSJ.com