McClendon to step down as chairman of Chesapeake Energy

The company said Tuesday that it hopes to appoint a chairman “with no previous substantive relationship with Chesapeake” in the “near future.” McClendon has agreed to step down once the board chooses a chairman, Chesapeake said. But McClendon will remain CEO of the company.

“We believe separation of the chairman and CEO roles will improve Chesapeake’s corporate governance and the early termination of the FWPP will eliminate a source of controversy, both of which should send a positive signal to the market and improve shareholder value,” Merrill Miller Jr., Chesapeake’s lead independent director, said in a statement.

“The board appreciates Aubrey’s cooperation in these measures and has confidence in Chesapeake’s future, based on its superb assets, strong management team and talented employees.”

The board also said it will end the Founder Well Participation Program (FWPP), which gives McClendon a stake in the company’s wells, on June 30, 2014. The program was established as part of McClendon’s employment contract in 2005.

“Mr. McClendon has agreed to forgo such contractual right 18 months early without compensation,” the company said in a statement, noting that the first term of the program was slated to end on Dec. 31, 2015.

The board said it is “reviewing the financing arrangements between Mr. McClendon (and the entities through which he participates in the FWPP) and any third party that has had or may have a relationship with the company in any capacity.”

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the IRS is reviewing the FWPP.

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