Aubrey McClendon has left Chesapeake Energy Corp., but he's keeping access to a private jet and will face fewer hurdles in his return to the oil and natural gas business, according to a separation agreement filed Friday.
The Chesapeake co-founder also will receive a severance package worth about $35 million, including $11.1 million in cash paid out through July 2014.
McClendon's last day at Chesapeake was April 1, when he stepped down both as CEO and a director. He already has established several new businesses in an office tower close to the Chesapeake campus.
“In recognition of Mr. McClendon's visionary leadership and 24 years of tireless service to the company, establishing it as one of the most valuable and innovative companies in the global energy industry, our compensation committee believes that the CEO is entitled to cash compensation and benefits for the remainder of his employment agreement in the event of Mr. McClendon's involuntary termination without cause,” the company said in the proxy statement filed Friday.
As part of the separation agreement, McClendon will have access to up to $1 million worth of flights on a Chesapeake jet through 2016.
McClendon also will retain all rights to the Founders Well Participation Program though June 30, 2014. He already has chosen to buy a 2.5 percent stake in every well the company drills through that date.
McClendon — who is a part owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder — paid about $140,000 to the company to buy season tickets to Thunder games.
Chesapeake on Friday also updated McClendon's noncompete agreement.
Chesapeake acknowledged McClendon would remain active in the oil and gas industry, as one of the company's largest joint interest operators.
McClendon is free to pursue new business opportunities in the field, but Chesapeake can step in and buy assets McClendon wants if those assets are located in the same spacing unit as the company's existing acreage on April 1. If such “restricted assets” make up more than 40 percent of the total acreage McClendon wants to buy, McClendon must first receive Chesapeake's approval.
Chesapeake sold more than $11 billion in assets in 2012 and has said it plans to sell another $4 billion to $7 billion this year as it transitions to what it calls asset harvest instead of asset acquisition.
The filing also detailed which former Chesapeake employees are eligible to work for McClendon at his new companies.
McClendon has agreed not to hire employees away from Chesapeake through Jan. 29, 2014.
McClendon can, however, hire former Chesapeake employees who were assigned to him, have been fired or have accepted early retirement.
McClendon has created American Energy Partners LP, Arcadia Capital and McClendon Energy, which are on the sixth floor of the Harvey Parkway office building at 301 NW 63, about a half-mile east of Chesapeake's headquarters.
Earlier this week, McClendon sent an email to multiple people in the oil and natural gas business, stating that he is chairman and CEO of American Energy Partners and that the company is working to buy leases and producing properties.
“In particular, I will be looking for deals with a lot of drilling left on them and will also consider undeveloped acreage deals — plus, I am not scared of natural gas,” McClendon wrote in the email.
Chesapeake shares slipped 37 cents, or 2 percent, to $18.59 before the announcement Friday.