Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) has been in the news a lot this year so far. Unfortunately, most of that news has been not very good. It seems as though investors had been putting too much faith in CEO, Aubrey McClendon because it was later found that he had been using company-owned rigs as personal collateral. The board of directors was given the task of limiting McClendon’s powers by shareholders. However, while the CEO has been formally stripped of his “chairman” title, the board has changed part of the company’s bylaws so that McClendon is still able to hold the same powers as he did while he was chairman.
In addition, the company has been experiencing hard times along with depressed energy prices. Unfortunately, there is not a lot Chesapeake can do here because the performance of the company does depend a lot on energy prices. This has put a bit of a cash flow crunch on the company which has needed to sell of oil well stakes in some key shale locations just to make sure they delay running out of cash until a more long term solution can be devised.
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All of these negatives attracted billionaire investor, Carl Icahn who has purchased a sizeable stake in the company. Icahn’s presence certainly may give shareholders a sigh of relief but the problem is not fixed yet. Also, it is unclear as to Icahn’s opinion on McClendon’s power hold. Could Icahn rally the shareholders to get McClendon stripped of his chairman powers next? It remains to be seen but not doubt Icahn will continue to have a presence over at Chesapeake until conditions improve, along with the efficiency of the company.
In a breaking news announcement, Don Nickles, Chesapeake board member and former US Senator of Oklahoma, said that the company was close to naming a new independent chairman to the board of directors. This chairman position, of course, was the position once held by Aubrey McClendon.
The bottom line here is that Chesapeake is still a bit of a mess. Management positions are still being shifted around, trying to find the right leaders to lead Chesapeake out of a tough time. Once energy prices rebound and this whole management position debacle works out, I believe Chesapeake will be back in action and in a healthier state. Turnarounds do not happen overnight so it will take some time but watch for energy prices to turn higher first.