Aubrey K. McClendon, Chesapeake Energy’s audacious chairman and chief executive, has ridden the busts and booms in natural gas like a rodeo cowboy. He became a billionaire as the company he co-founded aggressively outbid competitors for land leases and drilled highly productive wells in virtually every major shale gas field in the country. And he acquired trophy assets like an N.B.A. team and a $12 million antique map collection.
But Mr. McClendon also borrowed heavily, with loans currently of $846 million, to finance his participation in an unusual compensation plan that allowed him to invest alongside Chesapeake in every well that it drilled, sharing in both the profits and the expenses.
Now Mr. McClendon may be about to tumble off the bucking bronco. Record low natural gas prices are undermining the value of the company’s investments and his own. Chesapeake announced on Thursday that it was phasing out the contentious compensation plan and undertaking a review of Mr. McClendon’s financial relationships with outside parties.
And a growing chorus of criticism about Mr. McClendon’s risk-taking management style and his compensation could force further changes at the company, the nation’s second-largest producer of natural gas, after Exxon Mobil .Page 1 of 6 | Next Page