Not Aubrey McClendon. The company's beleaguered founder and CEO, while prepared to relinquish his chairmanship as soon as a replacement is found, has no plans to step off the board, according to Monday's press release and people familiar with the matter — despite calls by some shareholders and analysts to resign his post entirely. (McClendon has been dogged in recent months by revelations that he ran a hedge fund for four years that invested in natural gas alongside his work as Chesapeake's CEO, as well as by details about loans he received from parties that were also doing business with Chesapeake, some of which were used to help fund McClendon's investments in company wells.)
Louis Simpson, the former Geico insurance official who was named to Chesapeake's board last year at least partly at the behest of Southeastern Asset Management, the driller's largest shareholder, is also expected to stay, according to these people. (SEAM has not responded to multiple requests for comment.)
So what of this year's elections? Former Union Pacific railroad chief Richard Davidson and Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis are up for reelection this year and may stay on even if shareholders reject them (more on that in a moment). And Charles Maxwell, the Weeden & Co. energy analyst, is set to retire Friday, leaving open a seat that, according to Monday's press release, will be filled by the incoming chairman.
That still leaves four seats yet to be vacated in this game of boardroom musical chairs. Logic suggests that natural-gas entrepreneur Kathleen Eisbrenner, National Oilwell Varco CEO Merrill "Pete" Miller, former Senator Don Nickels, and former Governor-cum-banking lobbyist Frank Keating are likely to step down, since McClendon and Simpson aren't going anywhere and Davidson and Hargis are running for reelection. But don't jump to conclusions yet, because there's a wrinkle, according to the people familiar with the matter: Chesapeake is reluctant to part with Miller, who sits on the board's audit committee (which is in the midst of an investigation of McClendon's financial affairs) and was only recently named the company's lead independent director.