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Pennichuck CEO to continue on in Nashua through November 2015

Union Leader Correspondent

July 22. 2013 9:32PM

NASHUA — Pennichuck Corporation, which was acquired by the city in early 2012, has extended its employment contract with the company’s chief executive officer.

John L. Patenaude, Pennichuck CEO since January 2012, will continue in his role until November 2015.

Pennichuck’s Compensation and Benefits Committee recommended that the water company’s board of directors confirm Patenaude’s position for another two more years.

“The committee and the full board found that Mr. Patenaude’s performance has been excellent and essential to the company’s successful transition,” says a letter from Thomas J. Leonard, board chairman, to Brian McCarthy, president of the Board of Aldermen.

Patenaude’s knowledge of the company’s transaction with the city, both before and after the acquisition, is important, according to Leonard, who said the transition from a publicly owned company to a private company with a single municipal shareholder is still ongoing.“A change in the CEO position is a major event, and there is presently no reason to make a change now,” said Leonard.

By extending Patenaude’s employment as CEO, it will allow the company time to further develop and evaluate internal candidates, according to Leonard’s letter, which notes that water rate cases have been filed with the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission that may not be complete until the fall of 2014.

Patenaude’s newest salary was not immediately available on Monday. He was previously earning $190,000 a year. Patenaude was not available for comment.

He took over as CEO in 2012, preceeding former president and CEO Duane C. Montopoli. Patenaude began his leadership role with the company at the same time the city acquired the water company, its debt and three regulated water utilities for about $200 million.

As a result, Pennichuck Corp. is no longer a publicly traded company. Each share of the company’s common stock, at $29 each, was previously purchased by the city.

This past March, Pennichuck held its first annual meeting since being acquired. At the time, three members of the Pennichuck Board of Directors were renominated, including Jay Lustig, John McGrath and Preston Stanley Jr.

Pennichuck provides water service to about 27,000 customers in 11 communities. Pennichuck’s subsidiaries include Pennichuck East Utility, which provides water service to about 7,000 customers in 19 communities, along with Pittsfield Aqueduct Co., Pennichuck Water Service Corp. and the Southwood Corp.

At least one alderman, Barbara Pressly, said she was disappointed to learn that Patenaude would stay on as Pennichuck’s CEO. She maintained that Patenaude’s role was only intended as a one-year, temporary arrangement to help the company transition.

Leonard was not available for comment on Monday.

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