Chesapeake Energy searching for next CEO after exit from bankruptcy

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... and more than three months on from the company's exit from bankruptcy in ChesapeakeChesapeake Energy Corp., which is seeking its next Chief Executive Officer after the sudden departure of DougDoug Lawler, as news swirls about shale industry consolidation.

The departure of Mike Wichterich is effective April 30 and Chairman Lawler will serve as interim CEO, the Oklahoma City-based company said Tuesday in a statement.

'Doug leaves the company in a great position for future success, and this decision is not a reflection of his performance or the result of any action on his part, Wichterich said in an email to employees seen by Bloomberg.The search for a new CEO will likely take several months.

Chesapeake could play a part in the future consolidation of the fragmented U.S. natural gas industry.It was weighing an offer for Alta Resources that would price the closely held explorer at more than $3billion, people familiar with the matter said last month.

Lawler, a former chief of overseas exploration at Anadarko Petroleum Corp., was billionaire investor Carl Icahn's handpicked choice to lead the oil and gas company in 2013 -He pursued a style that was in stark contrast to the late Aubrey McClendon's extravagance, slashing of costs and cutting the size of the workforce by about 90%.

In one of the most recent signs of austerity at Chesapeake, the Oklahoma City Thunder said last week that the company is terminating its naming rights agreement for the NBA basketball team’s arena.Lawler will walk away with $6.4 million in severance pay.

Chesapeake was eventually overwhelmed by, and racked with huge debts racked up during an earlier period of soaring energy prices. It filed for bankruptcy in June last year with more than $9 billion in borrowings.The company emerged as a much smaller company in February from bankruptcy protection of Chapter 11.

At the closing of New York trading, the shares were little changed : $246.87.

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