After Chesapeake Energy’s CEO and founder Aubrey McClendon announced he’s stepping down, shares of the company went up about 10 percent in early trading. It’s a sign Wall Street was waiting for McClendon to go.
Chesapeake led the drilling boom in recent years in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas. All the while, McClendon’s personal fortune became intertwined with the company’s.
“Aubrey McClendon is arguably the face of the US natural gas boom,” says Marketplace sustainabilty reporter Scott Tong. “The company he co-founded … they took the technology to get shale gas out of the ground and they scaled it up more aggressivlely than any other company.”
When plummeting natural gas prices loaded Chesapeake with debt, things became even more complicated.
”He sold artwork to the company. The company gave him this tremendously large bonus after the stock took a precipitous dive,” says Phil Weiss of Argus Research.
McClendon even reportedly borrowed from a firm that also invested in Chesapeake.
That drew the attention of regulators and the ire of shareholders.
Wall Street Journal reporter Russell Gold is the author of an upcoming book on fracking. He says McClendon leaves a complicated legacy.
”He had some significant corporate governance issues, and that ultimately led to his downfall,” Gold says. “But one of the reasons the United States has so much energy, and frankly so much inexpensive energy compared to the rest of the world is because of what Aubrey McClendon and Chesapeake did.”
McClendon leaves his position April 1.
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