Blog: Change at the Top for Houston’s CenterPoint Energy

Former Halliburton CEO also served on CenterPoint Board of Directors.

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Former Halliburton CEO David Lesar has taken the reins of CenterPoint Energy,  the Houston-based energy company beset in recent months by falling stock prices and the departure of top brass.

David Lesar

Lesar replaces John W. Somerhalder II, the interim president and CEO who led CenterPoint following the abrupt departure of another CEO in February.

CenterPoint serves as the primary electric transmission and distribution utility and natural gas utility for Houston, its surrounding areas and for a large swath of the Texas Gulf Coast. CenterPoint also serves millions of utility customers in Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio and Oklahoma.

Lesar’s appointment caps a recent rough stretch for CenterPoint that includes the departure of executives, a bumpy sale of retail assets and a significant drop in stock prices. On May 7 the company announced it had secured $1.4 billion of equity investment from Elliott Management and other investors.

Although his CEO appointment only became effective July 1, Lesar has served on the CenterPoint board of directors since the May equity deal with Elliott. He also chaired a board committee formed then to evaluate possible changes to CenterPoint’s business strategy.

Elliott Management previously made an unsuccessful multi-billion dollar offer to acquire Oncor, one of the state’s other major energy utilities.  Elliott also was the largest creditor to Energy Future Holdings, Oncor’s previous owner. San Diego-based Sempra Energy eventually acquired EFH and Oncor for $9.45 billion.

Lesar joined Halliburton as an executive vice president in 1993 and succeeded Dick Cheney as CEO three years later. Since 2019 Lesar has served as interim CEO of Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp., the parent company Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.

Somerhalder, a CenterPoint director since 2016, also stepped down from CenterPoint’s board on June 30. He was replaced by Earl M. Cummings, managing partner of MCM Houston Properties LLC, a real estate fund.

— R.A. Dyer