Aubrey McClendon, the controversial founder and former CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK), is returning with a newly established company to explore and produce natural gas, according to CNBC based on information obtained from investors.
Chesapeake’s CEO launching American Energy Utica
The report indicated that McClendon is launching his new company, called American Energy Utica, and is close to completing a $1.8 billion equity and debt financing to start his natural gas exploration and production in the Southern Utica Shale.
McClendon looks at Southern Utica Shale
McClendon will acquire and develop lands in the Southern Utica Shale, an area abundant in natural gas and natural gas liquids. According to CNBC, American Energy Utica entered into three separate transactions for the acquisition of 80,000 acres in the Utica Shale.
McClendon managed to raise $1.35 billion in equity and $450 million in debt to fund the business operation of American Energy Utica, which is expected to start its production process immediately. His objective is to have 12 rigs operating within two to three years, according to the investors of his new company.
The founder and ex-CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) is widely known as one of the fathers of the natural gas industry in the United States. He stepped down from his position as CEO of the second largest natural gas producers in the country due to numerous controversies and investigations against the company.
In addition to the negative issues surrounding McClendon and Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK), the company was hardly hit by the declining prices of natural gas. During his tenure as CEO, the long-term shareholders of the second largest natural gas in the country enjoyed enormous returns.
The investors of American Utica Energy are less concerned with previous issues against McClendon, and they are hoping the father of the natural gas industry will be able to deliver similar outstanding profits.
Private equity firm, Energy and Minerals Group, is the largest single investor of American Energy Utica with an almost 70 percent stake in the equity contributed in the transaction.
John Raymond, head of Energy Minerals Group, said McClendon’s execution record along with the capital raised is the best rocks around in the acreage acquired, and he expects a long-term success. Other investors, such as First Reserve, are providing McClendon with a larger incentive. He will receive more incentives once American Energy Utica generates higher internal rate of return.
McClendon strongly believes that the demand for natural gas in the United States is just starting and he projects that the demand will last for generations.