Aubrey McClendon, long regarded as one of the brashest, most creative executives in the U.S. energy industry, has raised $15 billion in cash and debt financing for a new venture 1½ years after being ushered out of the drilling company he helped found, Chesapeake Energy.
But just months after amassing that war chest for American Energy Partners, his new drilling company, McClendon is actively trying to add to it—amid a unique set of personal obstacles and some of the worst market conditions in recent memory.
Since June, the prices of oil and natural gas have spiraled to below $50 and $3 respectively, making it difficult to drill profitably in many domestic shale wells. In an indication of the perceived health of AEP in the credit markets, bonds issued by the company's drilling entities are trading at well below par, in a range between 67 cents and 87 cents on the dollar.
At the same time, a new lawsuit accuses McClendon of stealing Chesapeake's trade secrets to help launch AEP. Moreover, associates of McClendon say that some of his investors—notably the chief executive of the Energy & Minerals Group, AEP's largest equity investor—are growing frustrated, prompting McClendon once again to seek additional financing that would allow him to regain some independence.
So far this year, say people familiar with the matter, McClendon and his representatives have held multiple meetings with both banks and private-equity firms in hopes of raising additional capital in various forms.