SEC Launches Probe Of Chesapeake Energy-CEO Arrangement

 @MikeObelm.obel@ibtimes.com on April 26 2012 2:19 PM
Chesapeake CEO
Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon REUTERS

The Securities and Exchange Commission launched a probe on Thursday of a program by Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE: CHK) that let its founder and CEO get an ownership interest in any well drilled by the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer, Reuters said.

CEO Aubrey McClendon used that ownership interest to borrow as much as $1.1 billion, the news agency reported earlier this week.

The Oklahoma City, Okla., corporation initially said its directors were fully aware of McClendon's borrowing on his ownership stake but clarified on Thursday that directors had never reviewed specific transactions by McClendon.

Under the terms of the 10-year program, McClendon could gain up to a 2.5 percent working interest in any well drilled by Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE: CHK) in a calendar year, assuming his partial ownership does not reduce the company's stake to less than 12.5 percent per natural gas well.

The SEC opened an informal inquiry into the well ownership program, Reuters said.

Chesapeake, meanwhile, said on Thursday that its board had decided not to extend the program, known as the Founder Well Participation Program, beyond its current termination date of Dec. 31, 2015.

Also, Chesapeake said McClendon will disclose supplemental information regarding the interests he has acquired through the company's Founder Well Participation Program as of Dec. 31, 2011.

Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE: CHK) fell 27 cents to $17.86 in afternoon trading.

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