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Chesapeake Energy Names Anadarko Executive Robert Douglas Lawler As CEO

Oil and natural gas company Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) said Monday that it has appointed Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) executive Robert Douglas Lawler as chief executive officer and a member of the board of directors. Lawler succeeds Aubrey McClendon, who left the company in April. His appointment is effective June 17.

In end-January, Chesapeake said that its co-founder, CEO and president McClendon will retire from the company on April 1, ending a 24-year tenure at the company's helm. McClendon served as Chesapeake's CEO since the inception of the company in 1989 and as chairman of the board from its founding until 2012. Chesapeake is the second-largest natural gas producer in the U.S.

Archie Dunham, Chairman of the Board of Chesapeake Energy, said, "Throughout his 25 years in the upstream E&P industry, Doug has earned a reputation as a highly engaged and knowledgeable leader who delivers superior operational performance and capital efficiency. The Board is confident that Doug's deep technical upstream and engineering expertise as well as his strategic and financial skills will serve Chesapeake well."

Chesapeake noted that with Lawler assuming the CEO position, it will discontinue the office of the chairman. Accordingly, Archie Dunham, Steven Dixon and Domenic Dell' Osso will now continue to serve in their roles as non-executive chairman of the board, executive vice president of operations and geosciences and chief operating officer, and as executive vice president and chief financial officer, respectively.

Lawler, aged 46, is a petroleum engineer with 25 years of experience in the upstream exploration and production industry. Lawler began his career in 1988 at Kerr-McGee, which was acquired by Anadarko in 2006.

During Lawler's 25 years at Anadarko and Kerr-McGee, he served in multiple engineering and leadership positions within a diverse geographic portfolio including U.S. Onshore, deepwater Gulf of Mexico and international assets. He most recently served as senior vice president, international and deepwater operations and a member of Anadarko's executive committee.

In addition, Lawler has been instrumental in Anadarko's achievement of industry-leading operational and capital efficiency. During his career in Anadarko, he has held a variety of positions with increasing responsibility within operations, business planning and analysis departments.

Chesapeake has been under scrutiny from federal regulators and investors after McClendon was found to have taken loans of more than $1 billion from private equity firm EIG Global Energy Partners LLC, using his stake in the company's drilling wells that were obtained under a controversial program. The company has said that its extensive probe of alleged conflicts of interest involving McClendon did not reveal any improper conduct.

Chesapeake had also been facing pressure from its key shareholders Southeastern Asset Management Inc. and activist investor Carl Icahn for a board rejig in order to improve governance at the company, which had seen a sharp erosion in share value.

In June 2012, Chesapeake appointed five new independent directors to its reconstituted nine-member board and named Archie Dunham as its new independent non-executive chairman in place of McClendon. Chesapeake's board had also retained Heidrick & Struggles to assist in its search for a new CEO.

In March 2013, Chesapeake said its board of directors established a three-person Office of the Chairman while continuing its CEO search process with the assistance of Heidrick & Struggles.

Chesapeake had noted that McClendon will continue to be an important partner with the company due to his stock ownership and his interests in certain of the company's wells in connection with the Founder Well Participation Program that will terminate on June 30, 2014.

In Monday's regular session, CHK is trading at $20.45, up $0.18 or 0.89 percent on a volume of 2.64 million shares.

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