“They could be subject to shareholders lawsuits here,” he said. “Obviously it's a very gray area.”
McClendon, 53, has been dogged by questions about the mingling of his personal businesses with Chesapeake's since Reuters reported last spring that he had secured more than $1 billion in loans against his stake in company wells.
The ensuing shareholder unrest resulted in McClendon being replaced as board chairman by former Conoco executive Archie Dunham amid a shake-up that left Chesapeake's two largest shareholders in control, with four other seats on the board.
McClendon remained as CEO, but the board's audit committee began an extensive review of his personal finances.
That still-pending review, which has not revealed any improper conduct by McClendon, was not the reason the company and the only chief executive it has ever had decided to begin searching for a new leader, according to Tuesday's announcement.
McClendon will leave the company on April 1.
Editor's Note: Chesapeake Energy Corp. spokesman Michael Kehs has further clarified information in this story. Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon will continue to serve as Chief Executive Officer, President and a director until the earlier of April 1, 2013 or the time at which his successor is appointed. McClendon will leave the company on April 1, 2013. Also, under terms stated in Chesapeake's proxy, McClendon could have been required to repay up to $11.25 million of his $75 million bonus in 2008 if his departure were considered a unilateral decision to retire. Because it is considered "termination without cause," McClendon instead will receive severance pay, benefits, and accelerated equity compensation of about $47 million.