This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, June 29, 2020:
Chesapeake Energy Corporation, once the country’s second-largest natural-gas producer, declared bankruptcy on Sunday in Houston. Most on Wall Street weren’t surprised, as the company had warned repeatedly that it likely wouldn’t survive in its present form thanks to excessive debt and the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Wall Street used words such as “succumbs” and “failures” and the like to describe the company’s descent into bankruptcy.
The New American has chronicled the company’s history of enormous success — in 2011 Forbes named the company’s co-founder Aubrey McClendon to its “20-20 Club,” which is comprised of CEOs who had delivered to investors returns in excess of 20 percent a year for 20 years — as well as McClendon’s enormous tolerance for risk as he was building the company.
When McClendon died in a car crash in 2018, Doug Lawler took over as chief executive. Lawler faced an enormous task: reduce the company’s towering debt while pivoting from production of natural gas to the much more lucrative business of producing crude oil.
He almost made it.