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Piedmont Natural Gas CEO Skains to retire

Piedmont Natural Gas chief executive Tom Skains intends to retire when the company’s acquisition by Duke Energy closes in late 2016.
Piedmont Natural Gas chief executive Tom Skains intends to retire when the company’s acquisition by Duke Energy closes in late 2016. ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

Piedmont Natural Gas CEO Tom Skains plans to retire when Duke Energy’s acquisition of the Charlotte-based company closes in late 2016.

Skains’ role in the combined companies went unanswered when the $4.9 billion deal was announced last week. Duke will also assume $1.8 billion in Piedmont’s debt.

Both Piedmont and Duke said Skains’ decision to retire was his own. Skains wasn’t made available for comment.

“This was a personal decision,” said Piedmont spokesman David Trusty. “It was completely his decision.”

Trusty said Skains felt he could help the transition between the companies by making his future plans clear.

Skains said in a statement that his decision would “help make sure we move forward with the transition and allow the Duke and Piedmont management teams to make important long-term leadership, organizational and integration decisions for the new Piedmont Natural Gas operations subsidiary of Duke Energy.”

Skains, 58, joined Piedmont in 1995 from Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corp. in Houston. Piedmont named him president in 2002 and chairman and CEO in 2003.

He is chairman of the Charlotte Chamber and a past chairman of the American Gas Association.

In announcing the acquisition, the companies said only that “an existing member of Piedmont’s management team” will lead Duke’s natural gas operations in five states and report to Duke CEO Lynn Good. One Piedmont board member will join Duke’s board.

Decisions on those positions have not been made, the companies said.

Skains informed Piedmont’s 1,900 employees, including 700 in the Charlotte area, by email Friday.

“Tom has served Piedmont with distinction and helped make it the terrific business it is today,” Duke said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with Tom to close our acquisition, which will be so beneficial to our customers.”

Details of Skains’ exit package from Piedmont will be released in future securities filings, Trusty said. Skains would be eligible for up to $11 million if he was forced out in a merger or acquisition, according to 2014 filings.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

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