Chairman of utility stepping down

Poindexter leaving post early, will stay on Constellation board

July 23, 2002|By Kristine Henry and Gus G. Sentementes | Kristine Henry and Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

In a surprise announcement, Christian H. Poindexter said yesterday that he is stepping down as chairman of Constellation Energy Group - almost a year and a half ahead of schedule.

Poindexter will remain on the board, and Mayo A. Shattuck III, president and chief executive, will take over as chairman. The announcement was made shortly after 6 p.m.

Poindexter announced his resignation as chief executive officer in October when the company abruptly scuttled its plan to split into two independent companies - a fast-growth, unregulated business that would generate and sell power nationwide and a regional electric company that would include its regulated utility Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. He said then that he would remain chairman through October next year.

At the time, he blamed a slowing economy and the climate of uncertainly after the terrorist attacks of Sept 11.

The abortive strategy proved expensive. Constellation had to scrap a year's worth of preparations and stitch back together a company it had begun separating. It paid $355 million to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to end the companies' five-year power advisory relationship.

Constellation also had to mend relations with Wall Street analysts critical of its sagging stock price, investors angered by a 71 percent dividend cut and employees who blamed company leaders for expensive missteps.

Constellation's stock climbed sharply in the months after it announced its decision to remain one company but has given those gains up in the current market downdraft. It lost 69 cents to close at $22.84 yesterday.

Neither Poindexter nor Shattuck could be reached for comment last night, and the company did not indicate why Poindexter stepped down early. A company spokesman declined to explain the early resignation.

"Constellation's new management team has very quickly established itself as one of the industry's most capable and is well positioned for success," Poindexter said in a statement. "They are ready to move forward, and I feel confident that I can step aside knowing the company will continue to do well."

Poindexter, who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1960 and holds a master's degree in business administration from Loyola College, will remain as chairman of the executive committee.

He joined Baltimore Gas and Electric in 1967 as a senior engineer, holding that job six years before being promoted to project engineer at Calvert Cliffs and, a year later, to chief nuclear engineer. He became chairman and CEO in 1992.

"I want to thank Chris Poindexter for his 35 years of leadership and dedication to this company," Shattuck said in a statement. "Chris brought Constellation Energy Group into being. ... He has given us a solid foundation. We intend to build on it."

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