NEW YORK (AP) — Aubrey McClendon, the brash and embattled CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp., will leave the company he founded 24 years ago amid philosophical differences with the company's new board of directors.
The company announced Tuesday that McClendon will step down April 1 and will serve as CEO until a successor is named. McClendon will depart even though Chesapeake says a review of his business dealings has not revealed improper conduct.
Chesapeake Chairman Archie Dunham said in a statement the company needs a new leader to help develop the oil and gas assets it has amassed under McClendon.
Shares of the nation's second-largest natural gas producer rose more than 10 percent in after-hours trading. They dropped sharply last year as natural gas prices dropped to 10-year lows and some of McClendon's business dealings called Chesapeake's corporate governance into question.
McClendon, 53, was renowned for his aggression and skill in acquiring oil and gas drilling rights. As drillers learned to unlock natural gas from shale formations over the last decade, McClendon pushed the company to acquire enormous tracks of land in several states. The strategy landed the company promising assets, boosted the company's own production and helped fuel the national boom in natural gas production. But it saddled Chesapeake with enormous debt.
Chesapeake then became victim of its own success. Natural gas prices plummeted along with all the new drilling by Chesapeake and its peers, reducing revenues for the company and making the debt harder to repay.