Progress Energy Names New CEO, Chairman

Posted October 12, 2007

— Bill Johnson, interim chief executive at Progress Energy, can remove interim from the title.

The Progress Energy board of directors on Friday selected Johnson to replace former chairman and CEO Bob McGehee, who died on Tuesday after suffering a stroke while on company business in London.

The board also named Johnson, 53, as the company’s chairman.

Johnson, who was the Raleigh-based utility's president and chief operating officer, was named interim CEO by the board on Monday, after McGehee was left incapacitated by the weekend stroke.

A former lawyer, Johnson has worked with Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN ) since 1992 in several different roles. He was a partner in the Hunton & Williams law firm in Raleigh before joining the utility, which at that time was known as Carolina Power & Light. Johnson focused on representation of utilities companies.

Johnson received his law degree from the University of North Carolina law school in 1982. He earned a degree in history and graduated summa cum laude from Duke University. He also attended Penn State, where he played football, but did not earn a degree.

“We are saddened to have to take this action today, but we are heartened that Bill Johnson stands ready to provide continuity in leadership for the company,” said John Mullin III, the board’s lead director who was serving as acting chairman. “Bill has earned the confidence of the board and employees. He is ready to lead the company as it continues its focus on operational excellence and customer service. It is a tribute to Bob McGehee’s leadership that the company has a talented management team in place, an effective succession plan and a capable leader in Bill Johnson.”

Johnson was elected unanimously by the board at a meeting on Friday morning, the company said in a statement. A succession plan had been put in place by the board in September because McGehee had been expected to retire early next year.

Johnson’s former COO position will not be filled, the company said.

“Progress Energy lost an outstanding leader and a dear friend in Bob McGehee,” Johnson said in a statement. “Although I am thankful for this opportunity to serve, I accept it with a heavy heart. I feel fortunate to work with the strong management team that Bob assembled. Inspired by the dedication of the men and women of this great company, I will work every day to build on Bob’s legacy of excellence and the positive momentum his leadership created.”

Progress Energy is a Fortune 500 company with more than $10 billion in annual revenues and more than 3 million customers.

Initially, Wall Street reacted positively to the news. The company's stock traded up 20 cents, at $47.39, in late-morning trading. The stock ended up losing 15 cents overall to close at $47.04.


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  • Conservative Oct 12, 2007

    To those who complain about others being overpaid, NOBODY has stopped you from acquiring skills/qualifications that would earn you such positions. If you quit whining and spend the time to earn skills, perhaps you could also land high-paying jobs. The only ones that are coming in your way are yourselves!

  • Conservative Oct 12, 2007

    WhiteAfricanAmerican - you need to grow up - that is the kindest reaction I have for your comments. A major corporation like PGN has to continue providing electricity in a reliable manner - otherwise folks like you will complain about that too. I suppose some of us are born complainers. Anyway, i want you to know that it was a waste of my time even to respond to your silly comments.

  • emilypaige Oct 12, 2007

    I just realized that WHITEAFRICAN AMERICAN likes to poke at others and start dissention among the troops (so to speak). He rarely responds to others comments when they take exception to something he has said; but instead, basically repeat an uneducated opinion for everyone to read again. There's a village somewhere missing its special member....

  • DrunkSober Oct 12, 2007

    The ex-CEO guy would be shocked if he woke up and found his seat has been filled.He would likely die of a heart attack, this time for real.I think they should wait for the guy to be burried.He may not even be dead.Recall the guy who was declared dead months ago, yet he was alive?

  • shm Oct 12, 2007

    Shine- the company, although well known, is no longer in business. I'm sure not all companies are this way and certainly progress energy had to put someone in his place to run the company. Just don't go through life thinking you are not replacable.

  • Sarge Oct 12, 2007

    I'm sure there was pressure from stock holders and wall street to do this quickly.

  • shine Oct 12, 2007

    shm and granny2shoes..... Maybe where you worked things happen and happened like that... but I can assure you where I work it is not even close.

  • swisher1 Oct 12, 2007

    Clearly they need someone to run this company - it just doesn't run itself - this guy is the most qualified so leave him alone.....sure he's overpaid, but it's not this life I'm living rewards will come in the next........

  • shm Oct 12, 2007

    I found out in 1988 that yes you are just a number, they were going to replace me because they thought I was going to die, I didn't and quit shortly after coming back to work. do your 40 and go home.

  • mootybird Oct 12, 2007

    How hard could it be to run a public utility that has no competition? All of these guys are overpaid!