By Triangle Business Journal

Progress Energy employees flooding into each of the company⿿s two downtown Raleigh towers on Monday morning were greeted with a sign in the lobby stating, ⿿Please check your e-mail for an important announcement.⿝

Despite the gloomy, cold conditions and the threat of an impending snow and ice storm, there was no doubt that the ⿿important announcement⿝ had nothing to do with the weather. Progress employees asked by reporters for their comments on the news of the day either ignored the question or responded with a ⿿no comment.⿝

It was pretty clear no one wanted to go on the record talking about their employerâ¿¿s agreement to be purchased by Charlotte-based Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) in a deal valued at some $26 billion. Regardless of whether they had read the official e-mail yet or not, the employees knew what was going down. It was news they have been hearing from media since last Thursday.

⿿It⿿s regrettable, unfortunately,⿝ says Progress spokesman Mike Hughes, one of the few willing to speak to reporters. ⿿Many of our employees found out from either the news media or a co-worker e-mailing them, other than by their manager or supervisor.⿝

Itâ¿¿s understandable that employees would be tense. The weather forecast â¿¿ even with the threat of ice-induced power outages â¿¿ probably of less concern to most Progress (NYSE: PGN) employees than the forecast for their jobs with a Duke-Progress merger.

⿿We do anticipate that there will be layoffs,⿝ said Hughes. ⿿We don⿿t have a specific goal, or a specific target for a number of layoffs. But when you combine two large companies with contiguous operations like this, one of the ways you save money is through reducing duplicate staff. So over time, that will happen.⿝

There will be time for the 1,800 Progress employees in downtown Raleigh to learn their fate and prepare accordingly. The approval process for the merger is expected to take about a year.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

Copyright 2010