Chesapeake Energy Names New Chairman

July 2012, Vol. 239 No. 7

Retired oil executive Archie W. Dunham has been hired to lead the board of troubled Chesapeake Energy Corp. in a move that is likely to see a number of major changes in senior leadership at the nation's second-largest natural gas producer.

Dunham replaces Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon as chairman of the nine-person board, which also saw the arrival of four new directors on June 21. Southeastern Asset Management, which has a 13.9% ownership stake, proposed three new directors, and activist investor Carl C. Icahn, who recently acquired a 7.6% stake, sought one.

The movement follows the annual shareholder meeting at which McClendon was strongly criticized investors upset over loan arrangements that enabled him to combine personal investments and company business. That has led to preliminary reviews by federal officials as well as the Chesapeake board.

Dunham, 73, led Conoco Oil Co. from 1996-2002 and was responsible for helping separate Conoco from parent DuPont in 1998. He also helped engineer Conoco’s merger with Philips Petroleum Company in 2002. McClendon has said that he will stay on as CEO.