As Trouble Deepens, Chesapeake Gets $3 Billion Loan

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Its reputation, and Wall St.’s perception of its future in tatters, Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) secured a much need loan to prop up its short term balance sheet prospects.

The firm announced that

it has entered into a $3.0 billion unsecured loan from Goldman Sachs Bank USA and affiliates of Jefferies Group, Inc. The net proceeds of the loan, after payment of customary fees and original issue discount (if any), will be utilized to repay borrowings under the company’s existing corporate revolving credit facility.

The terms were not terribly onerous:

The new facility, which ranks pari passu to Chesapeake’s outstanding senior notes, matures on December 2, 2017 and may be repaid at any time this year without penalty at par value and carries an initial variable annual interest rate through December 31, 2012 of LIBOR plus 7.0%, which is currently 8.5%, given the 1.5% LIBOR floor in the loan agreement.

Chesapeake plans to sell as much as $11 billion in assets, some of the proceeds of which will be used to pay the loan.

The agreement does little to take the pressure off of Chesapeake’s Aubrey K. McClendon, plagued by revelations that he has taken advantage of the company by investing on his own in many of its wells. McClendon and members of his board have also been accused of extravagant use of the company’s private aircraft.

Among the firm’s board members, the harshest light has shined on former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating, who happens to have joined the board one year after retiring from politics, and former US Senator from Oklahoma Don Nickles who joined the board in 2005 immediately after he left the Senate. Chesapeake is headquartered in Oklahoma.

Douglas A. McIntyre