Chesapeake Energy Corp. shareholders at Friday's annual meeting praised the company for the changes it has made over the past year.
The event marked a stark contrast from last year, when most proposals were defeated and most shareholder comments were negative.
“I want to thank you for what you've done. It's spectacular how far you've come,” Chesapeake shareholder Peter Hoffman said during the meeting. “It's remarkable what you've done in a year.”
The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CALPERS) was among the most critical shareholders one year ago.
Friday, however, representative Jameela Pedicini praised the company for its recent changes,
“I want to commend the Chesapeake board of directors for taking positive action,” she said. “We genuinely appreciate the changes. CALPERS fully supports the company's adoption of an independent chairman and encourages the board to continue with that practice.”
Chesapeake shareholders re-elected eight directors with an average approval of 96 percent of the votes cast. Shareholders also approved the company's proposed compensation and long-term incentive plans.
Three board proposals failed, each having received 60 percent of the vote, but less than the two-thirds majority required. Those proposals were plans to eliminate the supermajority voting requirements, make every director up for re-election every year and to make it easier for shareholders to make proposals.
A shareholder proposal for the company to move its incorporation to Delaware from Oklahoma received less than 3 percent of the vote, and a plan to create a risk oversight committee received less than 4 percent of the vote.
The annual meeting was the company's first that did not include founder and former CEO Aubrey McClendon.
Chesapeake's new CEO Doug Lawler was introduced during the meeting, but he did not speak. Lawler officially takes control of the company Monday.
Since last year's meeting, Chesapeake has replaced seven of its eight directors, named a new CEO, sold billions in assets and changed its focus from gathering properties to developing the acreage it holds.
“This past year has been one of great change and great progress,” acting CEO Steve Dixon said Friday.
“Now is the time to develop core assets and focus on delivering strong financial performance. This is a natural and welcome progression for the company,” Dixon said.
The company plans to reduce its capital expenditures by 43 percent this year while increasing production by 2 percent, he said.
“We're on track to deliver strong operations performance this year,” Dixon said. “We're very pleased with our accomplishments to date.”
I want to thank you for what you've done. It's spectacular how far you've come. It's remarkable what you've done in a year.”