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Icahn spends $785M for big stake in energy firm

Investor seeks ouster of at least 4 directors

NEW YORK -- Activist investor Carl Icahn has taken a sizable stake in Chesapeake Energy Corp. and is calling for at least four of the company's directors to be replaced.

Mr. Icahn spent about $785 million to buy 50.1 million shares, or 7.6 percent, of the second-largest U.S. natural-gas producer.

The billionaire investor's buy was disclosed in a regulatory filing Friday. Chesapeake has been hit hard by falling natural-gas prices. It is also criticized for allowing Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon to borrow from companies that do business with Chesapeake and allowing him to buy personal stakes in company wells.

He gave up his post as chairman May 1 after reports of his financial dealings were made public. Investors have expressed concerns that the transactions could have influenced the firm's business decisions. He said he borrowed $846 million in principal, with some of the loans coming from companies that were planning to buy Chesapeake assets.

Mr. Icahn did not identify the directors he thinks should be replaced.

Chesapeake is looking for a nonexecutive chairman, and Mr. Icahn said shareholders need to have input on that decision. He said he recently met with Mr. McClendon and asked him to consider direct shareholder representation on the board.

Mr. Icahn said Chesapeake Energy refused to consider the suggestion.

Chesapeake Energy shares rose 23 cents to close at $15.81 Friday and picked up 20 cents to $16.01 in after-hours trading. The shares have lost 38 percent of their value since March 20.

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