Chesapeake’s CEO, Aubrey McClendon, has announced plans to retire as of April 2013. McClendon founded Chesapeake in 1989 and, as a landman, was well suited to oversee the company’s shale land grab over the past decade.
Chesapeake has a market cap of more than $13 billion, with underlying assets that have significant growth potential.
Mr. McClendon was a fairly controversial figure in the investing world as he led the most aggressive leasing strategy ever implemented. The company has leased millions of acres and in turn flipped a portion of the assets to other companies. The deals funded the company’s shale leasing spree.
McClendon came under scrutiny multiple times throughout the past several years as his position magnified. The company’s “founder well incentive”, lucrative pay packages, and disagreements with a new board of directors eventually led to his demise.
Aubrey K. McClendon, Chesapeake’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Over the past 24 years, I have had the privilege of developing Chesapeake into one of the world’s premier energy companies. It has been an honor to work with my outstanding management team and the company’s 12,000 very talented and dedicated employees. I am extremely proud of what we have built over the last quarter of a century, and I am confident that Chesapeake is in a great position to continue to grow and achieve great success in the future as it realizes the full value of its outstanding assets. While I have certain philosophical differences with the new Board, I look forward to working collaboratively with the company and the Board to provide a smooth transition to new leadership for the company.”
His exit was announced as an early retirement, but legally it is “termination without cause” and he’ll be entitled to a severance package worth as much as $50 million.
Chesapeake’s Eagle Ford assets are a prime example of the company’s leasing strategy. The company assembled more than 600,000 acres then sold a ~33% interest to CNOOC for $2 billion. CHK has continued to add acreage and controlled almost 500,000 acres as of the end of the third quarter 2012. Production has also surged over the past few years. Chesapeake literally grew its operated Eagle Ford production to over a 120,000 boe/d (52,000 net) from almost zero just four years ago.