The federal government has opened an antitrust investigation of Chesapeake Energy Corp. over land and lease deals in Michigan, the Oklahoma City company confirmed Thursday.
In regulatory filings, Chesapeake said it received a subpoena from a field office of the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust division. Federal prosecutors in the Western District of Michigan have opened a federal grand jury inquiry into the purchase and lease of oil and gas rights.
Chesapeake also said several state government agencies have asked for documents in connection with oil and gas leases. It did not provide additional details.
“Chesapeake intends to provide information in response to these investigations, and its board of directors is conducting an internal review of the matter,” Chesapeake said in the filing.
The disclosure follows reports by Reuters in June that detailed possible collusion on land deals in Michigan with Canadian natural gas giant Encana Corp. The news agency published emails showing Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon directed employees to work with Encana to reduce the cost of land acquisitions in Michigan's Collingwood play in 2010.
Chesapeake said it explored a possible joint venture with Encana to secure leases in Michigan. The joint venture never materialized.
Chesapeake officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Jake Dollarhide, CEO of Tulsa-based Longbow Asset Management Co., said news of the federal grand jury investigation comes after several weeks of relative calm for Chesapeake shareholders. The company's stock closed at $20.31 on Thursday, up 41 cents. The regulatory filing came after markets closed.
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