Only On 9: New Chesapeake President Says Company Is Doing Well
OKLAHOMA CITY - Chesapeake Energy President and CEO Doug Lawler gave News 9 a rare television interview this week, wanting to communicate to people in this city and, more broadly, across the state, that the company is doing well, despite a poor year for the oil and gas industry.
Mr. Lawler took the reins of the Oklahoma City-based energy firm in June 2013, replacing co-founder Aubrey McClendon, who was forced out, due to myriad concerns over conflicts of interest, lapses in governance, and charges of collusion. Lawler took over a company with a world-class asset portfolio, but with massive debt and a lack of confidence on Wall Street.
When he first spoke with News 9 early in 2014, Lawler had already restructured the company, completed a round of deep layoffs, and was talking about a new atmosphere of discipline and efficiency in the company.
Lawler decided now would be a good time to again speak directly to Oklahomans because, after what has been a challenging time for the entire industry, and particularly challenging for Chesapeake, he has good news to share
"We are stronger today than we have ever been before," said Lawler, "the stability of the company, the future growth profile, the financial, operational improvements that we've achieved across the country."
Lawler knows his optimism may seem out of place, considering the company is just 15 months removed from the second major layoff he oversaw, saw its stock hit a $1.59 just 10 months ago, and was the frequent subject of bankruptcy rumors this year.
"The questions around the company's viability in the last few years -- there's been a lot of companies that have experienced significant hardship with the low prices, and Chesapeake is no different from that," Lawler explained, "we had to really tighten up operations, tighten up how we did our business."
Lawler says what's taken place at Chesapeake in the last three and a half years is a true transformation, and, despite the depressed market, the company is in a great place right now.
News 9 asked Lawler for numbers to back up that claim – News 9 will get into that in more detail on Monday.
The wide-ranging interview also touched on earthquakes, Aubrey McClendon, and Chesapeake's rebranding campaign. All of that, and more, is coming up next week.