Aubrey McClendon Not Done Delighting Us

on June 10, 2013 at 10:00 AM

The Memorial Tournament - Pro-Am

Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake Energy’s delightfully shady former CEO who was forced out by shareholders who found him more shady than delightful, is the sort of person about whom I might say “never change, Aubrey,” if that seemed necessary. It does not:

Aubrey McClendon, the controversial former chief executive of Chesapeake Energy, is attempting to stage a comeback by trying to raise $1bn in capital from private equity firms and sovereign wealth funds for his new company. … He has set up the new company’s offices near the Chesapeake campus he built during his 24 years at the company and AEP billboards advertising for staff are visible from the site.

That’s how you get around a noncompete! Or would be except that his noncompete seems to have been negotiated by a ravenous pack of lawyers who were warned to be extra careful around Aubrey McClendon, and as I read it he can’t hire anyone who comes to him from Chesapeake via the billboard.1 But, really: is that the point?

Anyway Aubrey is mounting his comeback with American Energy Partners, his new private onshore E&P company,2 which he wants to fund with private equity and SWFs. I’ve long been a fan of Aubrey’s for his brazenness in having somewhat conflicting interests in wells owned by his public company, semi-secretly borrowing against those interests, running a hedge fund out of his office in his spare time, and generally not giving much of a hoot for the niceties of corporate governance. Others have been fans even longer for the whole leading-the-shale-gas-revolution thing, and the general making of a lot of money, though that fell off a bit in recent years.3

My general view on Aubrey has long been that his apparent addiction to and talent for looking for, purchasing, selling, trading in, borrowing against, and generally messing around with oil and gas wells and the things that come out of them are good things for an E&P founder and CEO, but that they’re somewhat out of place in a public company CEO. Because telling public company shareholders something to the effect of “trust me, I got a lot of balls in the air, but I’m gonna make you some money one way or another” is not really the paradigm. Why should they trust you?

Read the rest of this piece on our sister site, Dealbreaker