Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

Chesapeake Corporate Governance Bill Sent to Governor

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Chesapeake Energy's Oklahoma City headquarters.

A new corporate governance law sought by Chesapeake Energy now awaits Gov. Mary Fallin’s signature.

Final approval from the state Legislature came Wednesday. The measure — House Bill 1646, authored by Rep. Fred Jordan, R-Jenks — reverses 2010 legislation that mandated staggered elections of directors at certain public companies, a corporate governance strategy designed to prevent a boardroom takeover.

Chesapeake Energy helped write the 2010 law, which didn’t protect it from a boardroom shakeup. Chesapeake pushed to reverse the law because the energy company’s new directors — and many of its shareholders — want annual board member elections, a structure in place at most of Chesapeake’s corporate peers.

The Oklahoma City company’s new directors have threatened to reincorporate in Delaware if the law isn’t reversed.

At least two other companies, ONEOK and OG&E, were unintentionally affected by the 2010 law, a situation lawmakers remedied last year with a legislative fix.

Despite a little acrimony from Rep. Cory Williams, D-Stillwater, HB 1646 received overwhelming support from lawmakers voting in the state House and Senate.

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