Chesapeake Relaxes Non-Compete Clause for Ex-CEO McClendon

Chesapeake Energy Corp. will allow former Chief Executive Aubrey McClendon to acquire oil and gas holdings adjacent to the company's wells in which he is a part-owner, relaxing a contractual restriction that limited his ability to compete with the company.

The Oklahoma City-based company disclosed that it had altered terms from Mr. McClendon's last employment contract in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Friday afternoon.

The agreement had restricted Mr. McClendon from acquiring, or helping others acquire, oil and gas assets immediately next to Chesapeake.

A Chesapeake spokesman said he had no comment on the filing. A spokesman for Mr. McClendon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. McClendon, 53, left Chesapeake earlier this month after co-founding the natural-gas producer in 1989 and building it into the country's second-biggest natural-gas producer after Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM).

He has registered two companies in Oklahoma, McClendon Operating Energy Inc., which is the joint partner of American Energy Partners, and leased office space about a mile from Chesapeake.

Chesapeake will pay Mr. McClendon nearly $50 million in severance, with the last payment due in 2014. The company also disclosed Friday that it will allow him the use of a company Citation X aircraft through 2016.

Mr. McClendon remains deeply invested in Chesapeake. Through an unusual perk, he has acquired small stakes in almost every well Chesapeake has drilled, sharing equally in the costs and profits of the well.

But the expense of the program has led Mr. McClendon to borrow heavily. He has pledged his interests in Chesapeake's wells to secure loans for more than $1 billion, including from a private-equity group that has done deals with Chesapeake.

The revelation of Mr. McClendon's borrowing practices last year sparked a governance controversy.


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