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Duke Energy Faces Shareholder Suit Over CEO Switch

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Duke Energy Corp. is facing a shareholder lawsuit alleging directors of America’s largest electric company hurt investors by misleading North Carolina regulators about who the CEO would be after taking over Progress Energy.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in a Delaware court by Alabama shareholder Lesley Rupp contends Duke Energy’s directors engaged in a bad business practice by appointing and dumping former Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson within hours after the merger closed.

The lawsuit cites Johnson’s successor as CEO, who said board members had discussed the last-minute switch for days even while the North Carolina Utilities Commission was reviewing its final approval. The lawsuit says that antagonized the regulator which sets electricity rates worth billions of dollars in annual revenues.

Duke Energy says the lawsuit lacks merit.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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