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Analyst: Hedge fund revelation could lead to McClendon's ouster

Jay F. Marks Published: May 3, 2012
Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon speaks at a 2010 energy conference. Photo by Steve Gooch / NewsOK
Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon speaks at a 2010 energy conference. Photo by Steve Gooch / NewsOK

Aubrey McClendon is no stranger to criticism.

But the Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO may be approaching the point of no return at the company he co-founded as questions about his stewardship continue to rise.

McClendon already is being replaced as chairman of Chesapeake’s board amid a review of as much as $1.1 billion in personal loans secured by his stake in company wells. Some of the loan deals involved private equity firms that have invested in Chesapeake, according to an April 18 Reuters report.

Now McClendon has been linked to a hedge fund that operated within Chesapeake for at least five years, possibly without the knowledge of the company’s board.

McClendon did not address Reuters’ hedge fund report during Wednesday’s first quarter earnings call, but Sterne Agee analyst Tim Rezvan said McClendon cannot remain silent.

“We did not expect a response from the company on the revelation that CEO Aubrey McClendon operated a commodities trading hedge fund during 2004-08. But we believe one is necessary, as it has further unnerved investors.

“We believe that this news could ultimately result in McClendon’s removal as CEO.”

Motley Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer is going a step further, insisting there is only one thing for Chesapeake to do in light of the latest report

“There’s only one solution to the problem: Aubrey McClendon needs to go. Now.”

Koppenheffer also said Chesapeake should replace most of its board.

The company already plans to add an independent chairman to replace McClendon at the head of the board, while directors Burns Hargis and Richard Davidson could be voted out at next month’s shareholders meeting.

Change at Chesapeake may not be driven solely by shareholders, as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Internal Revenue Service and possibly even the Justice Department are reportedly looking around the company.

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