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PG&E Sees Familiar Face Become Post-Bankruptcy Legal Chief

July 30, 2020, 4:30 PM

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has appointed its former interim CEO John Simon as its new top lawyer, just weeks after the utility emerged from bankruptcy and pleaded guilty to its role in a California wildfire that killed 84 people.

San Francisco-based PG&E disclosed in a securities filing Thursday that Simon, executive vice president of law, strategy, and policy, will take the reins from current senior vice president and general counsel Janet Loduca when she steps down Aug. 15.

Simon joined PG&E in 2007 and was named interim CEO shortly before the utility filed for bankruptcy in January 2019. The case generated big bills for several law firms, including Cravath, Swaine & Moore, which received $75 million from PG&E in the year prior to its Chapter 11 case.

PG&E’s bankruptcy, spurred by mounting liabilities from wildfires that tore through the utility’s home state in 2018, ended July 1 after the debtor pleaded guilty to 84 separate counts of involuntary manslaughter stemming from California’s Camp Fire and paid a $4 million fine.

Simon served as interim CEO until April 2019, when PG&E tapped former Hunton & Williams partner William Johnson to succeed him. This past April, Johnson announced his intention to retire June 30 as CEO. He was replaced on an interim basis by William Smith.

At the time of his promotion to interim CEO four months earlier, Loduca, a longtime in-house lawyer who joined the utility in 2000 and most recently served as deputy general counsel, was elevated to general counsel. Loduca informed PG&E on July 24 about her plans to leave, the utility said in a securities filing, noting that she is eligible to receive severance benefits.

Loduca currently owns almost $227,000 in PG&E stock and Simon’s stock holdings are valued at nearly $573,000, according to Bloomberg data, which shows that Johnson owns $1.29 million in the utility’s stock.

Simon, who will now serve as general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer at PG&E, received more than $3.1 million in total compensation from PG&E in 2018, the year prior to his appointment as interim CEO.

Neither Simon nor Loduca immediately responded to requests for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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