The CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK), the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer, will give up the role of chairman and his minority stakes in the company's wells after shareholders said there was a potential conflict of interest.
Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake said Tuesday it will end the Founder Well Participation Program, which allowed McClendon to retain up to 2.5 percent ownership on new wells, on June 30, 2014. The termination date is six months earlier than the previously planned date of Dec. 31, 2015, and McClendon will not receive compensation related to the move.
McClendon, who co-founded the company, will be replaced by a non-executive chairman chosen by the board.
He had borrowed up to $1.1 billion using his minority stakes in Chesapeake's wells, creating a potential conflict of interest, Reuters reported in April. The majority of the money came from EIG Global Energy Partners, an investment manager that also lends to Chesapeake.
We believe separation of the chairman and CEO roles will improve Chesapeake's corporate governance and the early termination of the Founders Well Participation Plan will eliminate a source of controversy, both of which should send a positive signal to the market and improve shareholder value, said Merrill Miller, Chesapeake's lead independent director.
Shares of Chesapeake surged up 7.48 percent, or $1.40, to $19.84 in Tuesday afternoon trading.