New Chairman, Directors at Chesapeake

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Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) announced this morning that the new independent, non-executive chairman of the company’s board of directors will be Archie W. Dunham, former chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP). Dunham joins four new independent board members who were also named to replace former directors Richard Davidson, Kathleen Eisenbrenner, Frank Keating, Don Nickles, and Charles Maxwell.

Three of the new board members were appointed by Southeastern Asset Management Inc., which owns a 13.9% stake in Chesapeake and one new member was appointed by Carl Icahn, who owns 7.6% of the the company.

Former director Davidson was voted out by shareholders at the company’s annual meeting earlier this month, along with another board member, V. Burns Hargis. Both sent letters of resignation to the board, but only Davidson’s was accepted. Hargis, who is chairman of the audit committee, will have his resignation letter reconsidered following the current financial review of the company.

Chesapeake’s stock is down -2.6% in the first 45 minutes of trading today, at $18.55 in a 52-week range of $13.32-$35.75. Even a possible sale of some assets to a Chinese buyer does not seem to have helped boost Chesapeake’s share price today. Perhaps the new chairman, himself a career oil man, may not be viewed as the answer to Chesapeake’s many problems.

Paul Ausick