“He can win big, but he can also lose big. Very few investors want to do that.”
An October 2011 article in Forbes magazine labeled McClendon as America’s Most Reckless Billionaire. The article described him as the most admired and feared man in the oil patch but also the most reckless, “with an off-the-charts risk tolerance.”
Gheit praised McClendon for what he was able to accomplish at Chesapeake.
“You have to give the guy credit,” he said. “He created an incredible, phenomenal company, grabbed more headlines than any other company of its size.”
One person who hopes McClendon doesn’t leave behind his industry roots is Rich Kolodziej, president of natural gas vehicle advocacy group NGV-America.
Kolodziej said McClendon has been a huge player in growing the market for natural gas as a transportation fuel.
He said Chesapeake stands to gain from increased use of natural gas, “but this is the right thing to do for the United States.”
“His contributions really can’t be overstated,” he said.
State Chamber of Oklahoma CEO Fred Morgan lauded Chesapeake as a “pure Oklahoma success story.”
“Aubrey built an extraordinary company often on the forefront of technological advances. He deserves credit as a visionary and inspirational leader,” Morgan said. “His company and industry have contributed greatly to our state’s economy, employing thousands of Oklahomans and will continue to do so.”
Gheit said he is sure McClendon will do something interesting after he leaves Chesapeake because of his unorthodox and controversial approach.
He said he expects McClendon, whose great uncle was legendary Oklahoma oilman Robert S. Kerr, to stay in the oil and gas business.
“He’s been in the business all his life,” the New York-based analyst said. “He really doesn’t know any other business.”
McClendon is a good salesman, with lots of contacts in the industry, who should have no trouble raising money for his future endeavors, Gheit said.
“Aubrey was a very colorful guy,” he said. “I’m sure he will land on his feet doing something else.”