September 6, 2018 / 9:32 PM / 20 days ago

Chesapeake close to settlement with landowners, stock falls

(Reuters) - Chesapeake Energy Corp stock fell almost 6 percent on Thursday after a price fixing case looked to be approaching an out-of-court settlement for $6.95 million.

Lawyers for some landowners in Oklahoma and Kansas asked a U.S. federal judge to approve the settlement, which was filed with Chesapeake and Tom Ward, one of the company’s co-founders, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma late on Wednesday.

Officials at Chesapeake were not immediately available for comment.

The case followed the U.S. Department of Justice’s March 2016 indictment of a co-founder and former chief executive, Aubrey McClendon, of Chesapeake for allegedly participating in the antitrust conspiracy.

McClendon died in a car accident the day after his indictment. He resigned as Chesapeake’s CEO in 2013 following a series of conflict of interest allegations.

The landowners accused Chesapeake and another energy company, SandRidge Energy Inc, of conspiring to stabilize and depress the level of royalty and bonus payments paid to landowners in the Anadarko Basin, an oil and gas formation.

After co-founding Chesapeake with McClendon in 1989, Ward left in 2006 to establish SandRidge. SandRidge’s board ousted Ward as the company’s CEO in 2013. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2016.

SandRidge stock fell 4.5 percent on Thursday to $14.43, its lowest since early June.

Chesapeake stock was down 5.8 percent to $4.06 on Thursday, its lowest since mid-May.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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