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The CEO Power Forum: The Best of the Best

Five electric utility chiefs are showing true leadership for their companies and for an entire industry.
Fortnightly Magazine - May 15 2003

I think it is helpful if a company has an expansive balance sheet that can compete with the balance sheets of competitors.

At the same time, when a company is as large as Southern or as large as any of the top 10 utilities in this country, getting bigger from that is a great benefit. I think it is important to get better. One of the reasons we have not been acquisition-happy is that we have been extremely disciplined on why we would do that. Does it really have earnings per share growth? Is there something important that we can do if we were bigger that we can't do now? The answer is generally no. On paper it always appears better to be bigger. But bigger is always more bureaucratic and bigger is decisions further from customers, and bigger companies tend to be slower. For our judgment, there is no great benefit to be substantially larger. If you are going to get bigger, it should be for reasons other than being larger.

Chairman, President, and CEO of Exelon

"We do believe our industry will have opportunities. Our preference would be an integrated generation, transmission, and distribution company in an area that has made the transition to competition."

The Company

Market Cap End of 1Q 2003:
$16.4 billion

P/E Ratio End of 1Q2003:
10.3 (forward '03)

Revenue 2002:
$15 billion

Net Income 2002:
$1.4 billion


The Executive

Age: 58

Education: University of Wisconsin, followed by the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Board Memberships: UnumProvident Corp. and Fleet Boston Financial. Additionally, he is on the Board of Trustees at The Art Institute of Chicago, The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, The Chicago Historical Society, The Field Museum, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Illinois chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
Mr. Rowe is past chairman of the Edison Electric Institute, a trustee of Northwestern University and a member of The Economic Club of Chicago, The Chicago Urban League, and The Commercial Club of Chicago, where he serves on the Civic Committee.

Earlier in Career: Prior to the formation of Exelon, Mr. Rowe served as chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Unicom Corp. and Commonwealth Edison. Mr. Rowe was president and chief executive officer of New England Electric System from 1989 to February 1998, and he served as president and chief executive officer of Central Maine Power Co. from 1984 to 1989.

What has contributed to your company's ability to weather the economic downturn?

What has allowed us to weather the storm is that we have focused intensely on improving our operations and cutting costs at the same time. That is most highly represented by our nuclear operation, where we have gone from a 47 percent capacity factor six years ago to averaging 93 percent the last three years, and done it spending less money on many things simply by doing the job right. It is also represented by the money that we have taken out of areas like IT and overall administration since we did the merger