Chesapeake CEO out the door

Til later: Chesapeake chief Aubrey McClendon has stepped down as scheduled 1 April

Embattled Chesapeake Energy chief executive Aubrey McClendon officially stepped down Monday, leaving a trio of executives to continue company operations and a search for his replacement.

Chief operating officer Steve Dixon will serve for the present as interim chief executive.

In a conference call with investors Dixon thanked McClendon for his longterm "widsom, guidance and friendship."

Rounding out the interim management structure are non-executive chairman Archie Dunham and chief financial officer Domenic Dell’Osso, who will continue to oversee the search along with the Heidrick & Struggles search firm, the company said.

"Chesapeake continues to perform well and is successfully executing our strategy to increase liquids production, drive capital efficiencies across the business, and enhance financial flexibility to prudently fund growth," Dunham said in a statement.

Chesapeake also added that it had attained new production records despite running under budget in the first quarter.

Namely, it hit an all time high of 160,000 barrels of liquids per day, the company said on its conference call.

It also regained production of 4 billion cubic feet equivalent of overall production per day after dipping below the figure following asset divestments.

Chesapeake snapped up enormous natural gas resources as a key player in the US shale boom, but is now pushing an aggressive divestment programme after it was thrown underwater by declining natural gas prices.

McClendon came under fire for borrowing against stakes he took in company wells, an executive perk, among other corporate governance matters.

A range of factors are believed to be inhibiting the search for his replacement, including entanglements with regulatory investigations amid a governance overhaul, company finance reform as well as other companies looking for new leadership, Reuters reported last week.

US Securities and Exchange Commission is among the entities that has opened an investigation into "certain disclosure, accounting and financial reporting matters."

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