Entergy Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer J. Wayne Leonard on Wednesday announced plans to retire Jan. 31, resulting in a series of management changes at the New Orleans-based power company.
Leo Denault, 52, Entergy’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, has been elected by the board to succeed Leonard, 61, as chairman and CEO, the company said in a news release.
Andrew Marsh, 40, vice president for system planning, will succeed Denault as executive vice president and CFO.
“I believe we have the most bench strength in our industry and an extraordinarily strong senior management team that has been tested time and time again,” Leonard said in a statement. “They are more than ready to lead this company into the future.”
Also retiring in January is Entergy Wholesale Commodities President Richard Smith, 60, who joined Entergy in 1999. William Mohl, 52, currently chairman, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana and Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, will succeed Smith and relocate to the Northeast.
Leonard is the longest-serving CEO in company history. He became CEO and joined the board effective Jan. 1, 1999, and assumed the additional role of chairman in 2006.
“Having worked closely alongside Leo for almost 25 years, since his early days at PSI Energy and then through the merger that formed Cinergy, I know he is absolutely the right person to lead the team,” Leonard said of Denault as his replacement. “I have seen firsthand his strategic vision and leadership, financial acumen and in-depth knowledge of the business, and he has more than proven himself in challenging environments.”
Denault joined Entergy in 1999 as vice president, corporate development. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the areas of strategic planning, the office of the chief risk officer, and strategic pricing and transmission services.
Denault became executive vice president and chief financial officer in February 2004. Entergy noted that during his tenure as CFO, the company delivered the highest operational earnings per share and highest operating cash flow in company history in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
Denault was named to Institutional Investor magazine’s “2010 All-America Executive Team” and was ranked as the best CFO in the power industry in 2010 and 2009.
“Our team is strong, our future is bright,” Denault said, “and I look forward to working with the board and our talented executive team to build on our strong foundation, continue to align with and support the interests of our customers, employees and communities and deliver long-term, sustainable growth for our shareholders.”
Marsh, who succeeds Denault as CFO, joined Entergy in 1998 and held multiple corporate planning roles before being transferred to Entergy-Koch LP as vice president for strategic planning. He coordinated multiple acquisitions for pipeline and generating assets.
With Entergy’s decision to exit the partnership, Marsh was a key member of the transaction team for the sales of both Entergy-Koch Trading and Gulf South Pipeline, the two principal businesses of the partnership.
Returning to Entergy, Marsh served in a series of financial planning and strategy roles, including vice president, planning and financial communications, where he reported to the CFO.
In his current role as vice president, system planning, Marsh oversees a large organization with responsibility for executing commercial operations for the Entergy utility operating companies. Marsh led the negotiation or identification of about $3.8 billion for acquisitions, new construction investment and long-term power purchase agreements and also directed the execution of other commercial transactions estimated at about $7.8 billion.
“He has been groomed for this role (CFO) for a long time, and has the skills and experiences that will support and complement those of the leadership team,” Leonard said.
“While Wayne will continue to serve as chairman and CEO for several months, the entire board expresses its strong, unanimous and deep gratitude to him for his years of dedication and service,” said Gary Edwards, presiding director. “Wayne has had an outstanding career, working tirelessly on behalf of so many and winning the respect of all, and we salute him for his numerous accomplishments.
Leonard’s recognitions include a 11 straight years as a finalist for CEO of the Year in the annual Platts Global Energy Awards competition and being ranked as one of the top CEOs in the power industry for seven consecutive years by Institutional Investor magazine. Leonard was named top CEO in 2004 and 2010 and a member of the magazine’s “2010 All-America Executive Team.”