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Bob Flexon: Leadership Lyceum Podcast Summary
Five-Year Anniversary Conversation with Dynegy CEO Bob Flexon
Everything in nature is resurrection. – Voltaire
A Fortune 1000 company, Dynegy is the second largest independent generator of electricity in the U.S. It operates twenty-six thousand megawatts of power generating facilities in eight states. This past June, Bob Flexon celebrated a remarkable five years as CEO of Dynegy.
He joined Dynegy in June of 2011 and within his first year led the company through orderly bankruptcy proceedings. Prior to the end of year two, Dynegy acquired the power generation assets of Ameren in St. Louis for nine hundred million dollars.
Early in Flexon’s fourth year, Dynegy completed the simultaneous acquisition of Duke’s Midwest power generation assets for 2.8 billion dollars, and EquiPower Resources for 3.45 billion dollars. It doubled Dynegy’s net power generating capacity.
During his fifth year, Dynegy announced the acquisition of French company ENGIE’s North American fossil portfolio. This was done through a joint venture with Energy Capital Partners, a private equity group.
This transaction continues Dynegy’s transformation into a predominately gas generation fleet. It will increase net generating capacity another fifty percent to nearly thirty-five thousand megawatts. That’s enough power capacity to supply about twenty-eight million homes.
The complexity and drama of each of these major events in Dynegy’s reformation are worth another article in their own right. But this is not a story about the impressive execution of transactions. Rather, it’s a glimpse into how a CEO in our industry has successfully addressed the biggest challenges in any organization: the environment, culture and people.
Flexon joined Dynegy during a highly distressed period for the company. The financial situation required urgent action. “Dynegy went through a really tough time prior to my arrival,” he reflects.
“The entire executive management team resigned, the board of directors resigned, and there were two failed takeovers. Anybody who could was leaving the company, or about to leave the company, thought that there was probably a bankruptcy four or five months down the road – which there ultimately was.”
From the start, Flexon outlined and communicated a straightforward set of objectives. “I wanted to work through the tough beginnings of the restructuring,” he recalls, “to be accepted by the broader organization, to build a place where people want to come to work and where they’re proud of what they do. And maybe, most of all, to provide the chance for Dynegy to feel what it’s like to win again.”
He determined that the situation required the trust and familiarity of a seasoned team. “The first thing that I did coming out of the gate was ensure that we had an experienced team that could hit the ground running,” Flexon explains. “I brought a half a dozen or so people that I’d worked with in the past. Virtually all of them were at NRG at the time.”
“Being surrounded by some very