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Chesapeake Energy Corp. names new CEO

Anadarko Petroleum executive Robert Douglas Lawler will take reins of troubled Oklahoma City energy company Chesapeake.
by Adam Wilmoth Modified: May 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm •  Published: May 20, 2013

Chesapeake Energy Corp. shares jumped nearly 3 percent Monday after the Oklahoma City energy company tapped Anadarko Petroleum executive Robert Douglas Lawler as its new CEO.

Lawler, 46, is senior vice president of international and deepwater operations for Houston-based Anadarko, which in 2006 bought Oklahoma City-based Kerr-McGee Corp. Lawler is set to begin at Chesapeake on June 17.

“I am honored and excited to be joining Chesapeake Energy with its unparalleled asset portfolio, focused management team and very talented and dedicated employees,” Lawler said Monday in a statement. “There is significant value in Chesapeake's asset base and the growth potential of the company is tremendous.

“I look forward to accelerating the momentum that the Chesapeake team has built to generate value for our shareholders in the years ahead.”

Lawler's appointment drew praise from Wall Street on Monday.

“We believe Lawler's appointment is another step in the right direction for Chesapeake,” said Mark Hanson, an analyst with Morningstar in Chicago.

Hanson said he is pleased Chesapeake tapped a petroleum engineer since the company is now focused on developing assets instead of acquiring land.

“Moreover, he appears entirely comfortable dealing with the financial, legal and operational complexity that he will be inheriting at Chesapeake, as evidenced by his successful oversight of Anadarko's offshore Mozambique assets,” Hanson said.

Analyst Phil Weiss had called for Chesapeake to tap someone outside the company who had a financial background to replace co-founder Aubrey McClendon as CEO.

“I have long maintained that CHK (Chesapeake) would be best served by going outside the organization to fill McClendon's spot. This certainly hits the mark in that regard,” said Weiss, an analyst with Argus in New York. “According to the press release, Lawler has a reputation for operational performance and capital efficiency. However, I will note that APC (Anadarko) has a relatively high cost structure, so I am less certain of his abilities in those areas. All in all, I view this as a net positive for CHK.”

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by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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