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New York state comptroller wants to oust Chesapeake board

The man who oversees the New York State Common Retirement Fund is calling on Chesapeake Energy Corp. shareholders to replace the company's board, starting with two directors who are up for re-election at next week's annual meeting.
BY JAY F. MARKS Published: May 30, 2012

He noted the company has lost nearly $1.5 billion in market capitalization since April 18, when Reuters reported McClendon had secured more than $1 billion in loans against his personal stake in Chesapeake wells.

Some of those loans came from a private equity firm that has done business with Chesapeake, spurring a board review.

DiNapoli said Chesapeake's directors have not done enough, especially in light of the company's precarious financial position.

“A fundamental restructuring of the company's board of directors is essential if the board is to regain the trust of stakeholders and regulators,” he wrote.

Chesapeake's stock gained 54 cents on Tuesday, closing at $16.35 a share.

Increasing analyst concern

Chesapeake is looking to sell some assets to cover a funding shortfall.

Analysts at Jefferies and Co. estimate Chesapeake must sell at least $7 billion in assets before the end of the year to satisfy its credit facility covenants, while needing to bring in an additional $2 billion next year, according to a research note issued Tuesday.

Chesapeake may not have enough sale options to reach that figure because of the weak market for natural gas assets, analyst Biju Z. Perincheril wrote, so the company “could find itself in need of selling more of its prized assets.”

Company officials have talked about selling Chesapeake's acreage in west Texas' Permian Basin and finding a joint venture partner to help develop its assets in the Mississippian oil play in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas.

Perincheril estimated those deals would bring in about $5.5 billion, so Chesapeake could be forced to sell some of its lucrative undeveloped acreage in south Texas' Eagle Ford Shale or Ohio's Utica Shale.

“Longer term, we think the company needs to exhibit stricter financial discipline in order to regain investor confidence,” which could come with stronger board oversight, Perincheril wrote.