Friday, May 01, 2009

Chesapeake's Reputation Takes Another Hit

As if the current state of the nat gas industry wasn't bad enough (as Jim Cramer pointed out yesterday), Chesapeake's (CHK) reputation just took another hit with the revelation of CEO Aubrey McClendon's pay package approved by his cozy board of directors.

The pay deal was struck between McClendon and the board in December. Here's a summary of what McClendon receives: a one-time bonus of $75 million, an annual base salary of just under $1 million, $32.7 million in stock grants and the company's shareholders also generously forked out $12.1 million to McClendon to take some no doubt lovely art work off his hands. (Why trouble yourself with going down to the nearest Oklahoma City pawn shop when your board of directors will give you a more than fair market price for your personal effects?)

Keep in mind that Chesapeakes's stock dropped 75% last year after being a star in the first six months and -- two months before this lavish pay package was approved -- Aubrey was forced to sell 31.5 million shares of Chesapeake in October (or almost $700 million worth of stock at the time) due to margin calls.

The optics for Chesapeake are terrible. It suggests the board was doing McClendon a favor after he got margined out of his Chesapeake stake. Shareholders are furious -- rightly so. It says this company is run like a small family-owned business rather than a major public company, which it used to be.

You would've given pause to buy Chesapeake after reading Jim's piece yesterday. Now, you have no reason to buy.

Position: None.

Originally published in on 4/28/2009 1:10 PM EDT

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