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Progress Energy Settles Duke Merger Lawsuits

Progress Energy said today it will pay half a million dollars to settle lawsuits standing in the way of its merger with Duke Energy. Progress Energy "vigorously" denies that it did anything wrong, but says in a filing with the SEC it has agreed to be more forthcoming with shareholders about the pending acquisition by Duke Energy. Shortly after the merger was announced back in January, Progress Energy shareholders filed nine separate class action lawsuits in state court alleging the marriage wasn't a good deal for them. As long as those lawsuits hang over Progress Energy's head, the company's shareholders can't approve the merger at a special meeting set for August 23 in Raleigh. To clear the way, Progress has agreed to pay $550,000 in legal fees and distribute additional information to shareholders about the merger. The original terms of the nearly $13 billion merger have not changed. Progress and Duke Energy officials continue to say the combination will be a merger of equals and make them more efficient. The settlement still needs court approval, and North and South Carolina utility regulators have yet to sign off on the full merger.