After seeing its call for changes at Chesapeake Energy Corp. fulfilled, the company's largest shareholder has switched back to being a passive investor of the Oklahoma City-based energy company.
Southeastern Asset Management Inc. said in a regulatory filing Friday it made the change “because of our confidence in management and board of directors.” The investment group changed to an “active” investor in May 2012.
Friday's filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission didn't provide any other details. It marks an end to a yearlong battle for direction of Chesapeake that ended with a boardroom shake-up and co-founder, chairman and CEO Aubrey McClendon's exit from the company. Southeastern and investor Carl Icahn were among those calling for changes at Chesapeake.
Large investors who own more than 5 percent of the shares in a company are required to file ownership intentions with the SEC. They can be either passive investors or active investors, which means they intend to pursue boardroom or other governance changes.
Southeastern holds 89.3 million shares, or 13.4 percent, of Chesapeake's outstanding shares. Its stake is worth more than $2.27 billion.
Last week, Chesapeake released its second-quarter earnings. After several after-tax adjustments, the company reported net income of $334 million, or 51 cents per share. That beat by 10 cents per share what many Wall Street analysts were expecting. Chesapeake had adjusted net income of $3 million, or 6 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2012.
Morningstar analyst Mark Hanson said in a research note the company made better-than-expected progress on paying down its debt. Chesapeake ended the second quarter with $12.4 billion in net debt, down from $13.4 billion at the end of March, he said.
“We expect this figure will come down further with the application of sale proceeds the company will receive in the coming months,” Hanson said. “Of note is the fact that newly installed CEO Doug Lawler is aggressively moving to divest noncore assets and investments, driven by what management is calling a ‘more competitive capital allocation process.'”
Lawler, who was previously with Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp., last month bought a $3.75 million house in Edmond, according to Oklahoma County property records.
Chesapeake shares have surged in recent weeks, rising 20 percent in July. They closed at $25.48, up 53 cents, on Monday. Chesapeake shares are up 53 percent since the beginning of the year.
We expect this figure will come down further with the application of sale proceeds the company will receive in the coming months.”