Earlier this month, Bill Johnson enjoyed one of the shortest — and most lucrative, in dollars/hour — terms as CEO in U.S. history, as he was ousted from his new position at Duke Energy after only a few minutes on the job. Earlier today, Johnson explained to regulators that his brief time on the job was just as surprising to him as it was to the rest of the world.
Two weeks ago, regulators approved the merger of two utility companies, Duke Energy and Progress Energy, both based in North Carolina. The merger of smaller Progress with larger Duke created the largest electric utility in the United States. Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson was approved as CEO of the merged company. It was all very corporate and mundane until the corporate intrigue started. Johnson was on the job for about twenty minutes before board members from the Duke side asked for his resignation, replacing him with Duke CEO Jim Rogers. Not that there’s any need to cry for Johnson: he’ll get $45 million for that twenty minutes of work, and for keeping his trap shut about why he was ousted.