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Chesapeake Energy CEO In Hot Seat Today

Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon.
Scott Detrow
Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon.

The NBA finals aren't the only big news in Oklahoma City.

This morning, shareholders of Chesapeake Energy, the natural gas driller at the center of the nation's hydraulic fracturing controversies, are meeting in Oklahoma City, where the company is headquartered. But the buzz at this gathering won't be about fracking or basketball. It will be about Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake's controversial CEO.

For weeks, revelations have been trickling out about how McClendon's personal finances became intertwined with Chesapeake's through a complex web of loans. Thursday, Reuters added new details with a scathing profile titled "The Lavish and Leveraged Life of Aubrey McClendon." (McClendon also owns a significant stake in the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team, whose home court is known as Chesapeake Energy Arena.)

Some shareholders are not sure what to be more livid about: the news about McClendon or the fact that low natural gas prices have pushed Chesapeake's stock down by 20 percent this year. McClendon agreed to relinquish his position as chairman of the board last month. But revolting shareholders, led by billionaire Carl Icahn, called for a bigger shakeup. This week, Chesapeake agreed to replace four more members of its nine-member board, but left many of the details to be worked out later.

NPR's StateImpact Oklahoma is live-blogging the event, which starts at 11 a.m. ET. Here is the blog's recent explainer on Chesapeake's woes, as well as five questions that need to be answered at the meeting.

(Christopher Swope is digital editorial coordinator for StateImpact, "a collaboration among NPR and local public radio stations in eight pilot states to examine public policy issues in-depth.")

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Christopher Swope