Chesapeake Energy Corp. and the estate of Aubrey McClendon have agreed to settle claims regarding the late co-founder and former CEO.
Under terms of a settlement that is to be reviewed in early March by an Oklahoma City probate court, Chesapeake has agreed to pay $3.25 million in legal fees and drop claims for $445 million related to data that McClendon removed from the company when he was forced out in 2013. In exchange, his estate agreed to drop claims about McClendon's remaining compensation following his dismissal, including cash, stock and the use of a corporate jet.
The "matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties," a Chesapeake spokesman said.
McClendon resigned from Chesapeake in January 2013 following a shareholder revolt, and he officially left the company April 1, 2013. Within months he founded American Energy Partners LP (AELP) also in Oklahoma City.
Chesapeake in February 2015 sued AELP, claiming the ex-CEO and his investors had benefited from proprietary information he took during his final months at the helm. The lawsuit claimed McClendon had "misappropriated highly sensitive trade secrets" and used them to benefit AELP and affiliates. During his final months at the company, the lawsuit claimed that McClendon sent himself blind copies of the printed documents to a personal email address, and the information then was used by AELP to acquire drilling rights on land in the Utica Shale in four separate transactions.
McClendon claimed he had a legal right to the data as part of his participation in Chesapeake's Founders Well Participation Program, a legacy perquisite that allowed him to participate in every well drilled by his former company.
However, in April 2015 the AELP Utica affiliate, without McClendon's approval, agreed to give Chesapeake close to 6,000 acres in the Utica in Harrison County, OH, and pay a combination of cash and contingent cash payments of up to $25 million to settle part of the lawsuit. The portion of the lawsuit not settled then moved to arbitration in May 2015, and was not settled when McClendon died in a one-vehicle crash on March 2, 2016.