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.
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 stock buy was disclosed in a regulatory filing Friday. It comes as Chesapeake has been criticized for allowing CEO Aubrey McClendon to borrow money from a company that it was doing business with, run a hedge fund that bet on oil and gas prices, and for allowing him the perk of buying personal stakes in company wells.
Chesapeake, along with other natural gas companies, has been hit hard by falling natural gas prices. Its shares have lost almost half their value in the past year.
McClendon 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 company’s business decisions. McClendon said he borrowed $846 million in principal.
Chesapeake is now looking for a non-executive chairman, and Icahn said shareholders need to have input on that decision.
Chrysler’s parent company halts auto, truck sales to Iran
MILAN – Italian automaker Fiat SpA, which controls Chrysler, said Friday that it and subsidiaries will immediately halt sales to Iran, following similar moves by other carmakers under pressure to cut ties to Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.
The international community has been toughening sanctions on the Islamic republic – including on its main cash cow, oil – because of fears that it plans to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.
The auto industry has been under pressure from the anti-nuclear lobby group United Against Nuclear Iran to cut off business dealings with Iran. UANI says the global auto industry is the second-largest source of foreign currency for the Iranian government, after oil, and also a source of foreign technology.
The decision by Fiat to halt sales “is a step in the right direction, and it shows the effectiveness of public pressure against these companies,” UANI spokesman Nathan Carleton said from New York.
Fiat and heavy-truck maker Fiat Industrial SpA said in separate statements that they “support international efforts for a diplomatic solution” regarding Iran. Both companies said their sales to Iran were “totally immaterial” in terms of numbers.
JPMorgan’s CEO to testify before House, Senate panels
WASHINGTON – JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon is being asked to appear before Senate and House panels next month to answer questions about the bank’s $2 billion-plus trading loss.
The Senate Banking Committee on Friday scheduled a June 7 hearing for Dimon to testify. The hearing is one day after federal regulators appear before the panel on the topic.
Dimon said through a spokeswoman that he will testify. He has yet to commit to the June 7 hearing. But he is discussing dates with the panel and the House Financial Services Committee.
The House committee hasn’t set a date for Dimon to appear.
Dimon has called the misstep “a black mark.” The loss has revived Democrats’ push for stricter oversight of Wall Street banks under the 2010 regulatory overhaul.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is reviewing what JPMorgan told investors about its finances and the risks it took weeks before suffering the loss.