Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers ventured into enemy territory when he first met with his counterpart at Progress Energy to discuss a merger.
After Rogers called to suggest they talk about ways they might work together, Progress CEO Bill Johnson set up the July dinner at the Washington Duke Inn, on the campus of Duke University.
Rogers jokingly suggested during an interview with editors at The News & Observer Wednesday that Johnson had picked a site that would put him at a disadvantage.
Rogers is a University of Kentucky alumnus and a big basketball fan who still holds a grudge over the last-second shot the Blue Devils' Christian Laettner hit in a 1992 tournament game to beat UK.
"It's bad enough running a company called Duke," Rogers said, laughing.
Johnson's quick response: "Go Heels."
(Johnson, who played football at Penn State, got a history degree at Duke, but later earned a law degree from UNC Chapel Hill).
The dinner spot must have been OK. Rogers went back to Charlotte and told his board that he and Johnson had discussed a potential merger.
That started a seven-month process that culminated on Monday when Rogers and Johnson announced that Duke will buy Progress for $13.7 billion, creating the nation's largest utility.