By Triangle Business Journal

Duke Energy has reached a deal to buy Progress Energy in a $26 billion transaction that would create the nation's largest utility company and cost the Triangle its largest publicly traded concern.

The acquisition, announced Monday morning, is an all-stock transaction in which Progress Energy (NYSE:PGN) shareholders will receive 2.6125 shares of common stock of Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) stock in exchange for each Progress share. The deal values Progress Energy shares at $46.48 each, or $13.7 billion.

Duke also would assume about $12.2 billion in debt, pushing the total value of the deal to $26 billion.

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers is to be executive chairman of the combined company, while Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson will serve as president and CEO.

The merger, if approved by regulatory officials, would increase Dukeâ¿¿s customer base by about 75 percent and transform the Triangle into a market with one major utility. Charlotte-based Duke currently serves Durham and Chapel Hill, while Raleigh-based Progress supplies Raleigh and Cary.

Perhaps of more importance to the Triangle business community, the deal would cost the area the headquarters of the only company in the market with a market cap exceeding $10 billion.

A Duke (NYSE: DUK) purchase of Progress also would greatly expand Duke's footprint in the Carolinas and add Florida as the sixth state in Duke's utility franchise.

Among the main benefits to Duke in the deal is finding a successor to Rogers, who is 63 years old and faces retirement in two years.

One of the most likely candidates, Jim Turner, resigned last month over questionable emails he sent to regulators that were uncovered in an ethics scandal in Indiana. The emails revealed no direct evidence of undue influence or criminal wrongdoing. But they raised questions about overly friendly relationships between the regulators and the company.