Chesapeake Energy CEO's $45 million goodbye

Aubrey McClendon, one of the most controversial CEOs around, resigns with a sparkling golden parachute. A company probe into his actions finds no wrongdoing.

By Jonathan Berr Jan 30, 2013 2:38PM
Chesapeake Energy (CHK) CEO Aubrey McClendon is stepping down from the company he founded 24 years ago after clashing repeatedly with the board. But he won't go away empty-handed.

According to CNBC and Bloomberg News, McClendon will get a golden parachute worth about $46 million, including $34 million in accelerated vesting of restricted stock that he was previously awarded and about $12 million in cash and benefits to be paid over four years. And inexplicably, he still gets to use the corporate jets during that time.
There is speculation that McClendon was pushed out. "Based on the terms of a termination without cause, Chesapeake won't collect any clawbacks from McClendon in connection with his resignation," according to a Bloomberg report, citing an anonymous source.
McClendon gained infamy earlier this year after Reuters discovered that he blurred his personal interests together with Chesapeake's in ways that shareholders didn't like. The news service found that McClendon used his stakes in company wells to arrange $1.55 billion in loans "from a major financier of Chesapeake and others" and operated a $200 million hedge fund from the company's offices. An internal investigation done by the company found no wrongdoing by McClendon. In fact, the company thanked him Wednesday for his years of service.

Perceptions, though, matter. Billionaire Carl Icahn and Southwestern Asset Management's O. Mason Hawkins, who together control 22% of the company, forced McClendon to give up his chairman's role last year. Shareholders fretted about what CNBC referred to as the "McClendon discount" on Chesapeake's share price caused by its continued association with the controversial CEO. Not surprisingly, Chesapeake shares were soaring nearly 8% Wednesday on the news of McClendon's departure.

McClendon, who earned more than $300 million in compensation over the past five years, is resigning effective April 1. His replacement will have a tough job turning around what Bloomberg described as a "cash-starved version of what was once the preeminent natural gas producer in the world's biggest market for the fuel."

--Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

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Jan 30, 2013 3:22PM
This is outrageous! Nothing less than pure greed and pride. Just another example of how corporate america is bankrupting these United States of America by giving themselves ( CEO's and the few upper level echelon ) all the profit percentage wise as the real workers that made that money and really put forth the effort are working for entitlements.
Jan 30, 2013 3:21PM
..ah, yes, the scam that IS the American way; and let the shareholders tote the note.....
Jan 30, 2013 3:29PM
UGH!  I am so sick of hearing about these poor old rich man.  Give me a break, if he didn't sell out his own company for the short money he wouldn't have to leave it now.  Unlike the line in the movie, GREED IS NOT GOOD.  And we all know what happened in the real Wall Street drama, we are all still paying for their GREED!
Jan 30, 2013 4:44PM
$300 million over 6 years and now the company is "Cash Starved"?   I wonder why?
Jan 30, 2013 5:10PM

i wonder how many 401K mutual funds DON'T get their cash because this guy gets his as part of being booted out the door? 


further theft of our 401K plans! 


ethics verses legal:  not the same thing

Jan 30, 2013 7:03PM

Yeah Unions are really to blame.  Damn Unions try to get workers $25 an hour and thats ridiculous....But $60 Million per year average over the last 5 years is acceptable.

Jan 30, 2013 4:55PM

Where are the capitalist stooges today ? Still licking the geni*als of their "job creators", the 1% ers, CEOs, etc. ?

Jan 30, 2013 11:45PM

Okay Jss....We have NO IDEA, when McClendon got this "vested stock"  of $34 mil in CHK...

IT HAS BEEN ACCELERATED...To date probably??


Another $12 mil in "cash and bennies" over next 4 years, no explano on the "bennies."

And use of the Company jet also for that time...

And maybe you missed the SEC investigation into his "personal shenanigans."

Company finds "no wrong doing"....Fox and Henhouses, Lawyers and Thieves.

Maybe you missed the huge slump in the shareholder value of the Company..

Kick the **** to the curb...!!!!!!

Yeah, I am and have been a Shareholder....I think you can find them, full of RAGE... 

Jan 30, 2013 7:56PM
I'm really looking hard to find the outrage here.  Let's see, of the $46 million dollar package, $34 million is in restricted stock grants he had previously received.  The remaining $12 million is divided between cash AND benefits (read - not all cash) over the next four years.  So a couple of million per year over four years for the guy who founded the company doesn't seem all that staggering, let alone shocking.  The $34 million in stock that came to vest as part of his package was previously granted and under his ownership already.  He would have taken possession when the vesting period ended in any case.
Jan 31, 2013 12:00AM

MadMan..someone...I have no problem with a smaller business or business person, reaping rewards from their hardwork and long hours..Happens everyday, yes they employ people..


My wife and I are somewhat familiar with Small businesses..


But this Scenario in the discussion of Chesapeake and McClendon,is really APPLES & ORANGES.

Jan 30, 2013 11:50PM

Oh yeah, forgot to mention the $60 million per yr. last 5 years.


Now he might be Richer then Al Gore or Willard Romney ???

Jan 30, 2013 7:45PM

What do you think he pays in taxes? You know, his fair share. 5%? 10%? I'll bet he comes in under 15% for sure. Just like the rest of those top 1% job creators we need to keep happy so badly.


And Ill bet he'll apply for SS also.

Jan 30, 2013 5:44PM
If it wasn't for us rich folks starting companies that provide your jobs, you would have nothing. I'm tired of the whining and finger pointing. Go make your own job. Try and build a company from nothing like I did and then you can offer your solutions. I deserve everything I have. Maybe some thanks are in order.
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