Controversial Cheseapeake co-founder McClendon to retire April 1

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Chesapeake Energy chief executive officer Aubrey McClendon will in April leave the company he co-founded and built into the nation's second-largest natural gas producer

As of April 1, he will retire as CEO and leave his seat on the company's board.

Mr. McClendon cited "certain philosophical differences with the new board" of his Oklahoma City-based company, many of whom were appointed amid a shareholder revolt at the company last year.

The company said today that Mr. McClendon's retirement is not related to a pending review by the board of the CEO's financial arrangements, which included a controversial loan program that allowed him to raise money against personal stakes in company wells.

Mr. McClendon, 53, has been vulnerable since that program was revealed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in March 2012 and later found to be part of a larger national network of undisclosed loans.

"The Board's extensive review to date has not revealed improper conduct by Mr. McClendon," the company said.

The full report will be released with its fourth-quarter earnings report on February 21.

After his retirement, Mr. McClendon will still retain a portion of his stock ownership as well as those personal stakes in Chesapeake rigs.

The program that affords him that 2.5 percent ownership will not end until June 30, 2014.

The exit removes one of the energy industry's most high-profile figures.

Mr. McClendon's aggressive management of Chesapeake since its founding in 1989 allowed it to amass a huge portfolio of acreage and assets across several formations.

The company's latest series of land grabs included substantial portions of the Marcellus and Utica shales of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

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Erich Schwartzel: eschwartzel@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1455.


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