Duke Energy settles lawsuit over post-merger ouster of its CEO in 2012 for $146 million

America's largest electric company is settling a lawsuit that claimed shareholders lost millions of dollars when Duke Energy surprised investors by ousting its CEO hours after completing a long-anticipated buyout of its smaller neighbor.

Charlotte-based Duke Energy said Tuesday that it is settling for $146 million and that its insurers would cover most of the cost, with shareholders instead of customers paying the rest. The company set aside $26 million for the amount not covered by insurance.

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The lawsuit said shareholders suffered when Duke Energy directors suddenly fired the new chief executive in July 2012 after wrapping up a buyout of Raleigh-based Progress Energy Inc. Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson was supposed to lead the combined company.

Duke Energy has more than 7 million customers in the Carolinas, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Florida.