T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire energy investor, said he’s sold off his shares in Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK:US), his third-biggest stock holding at year-end.
“We do not own Chesapeake stock,” Pickens said yesterday at the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference in Las Vegas. “We didn’t like natural gas.”
Chesapeake’s directors said last week they will strip Aubrey McClendon of the chairman’s post and are conducting an internal review of his personal transactions involving corporate jet travel, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission opened an informal inquiry. The stock declined (CHK:US) 23 percent in 2012 through yesterday.
Asked whether it was “the politics of the company” that spurred his share sale, Pickens said, “It was not.”
“Aubrey is a good friend,” Pickens said. “The guy has pulled off some unusual deals. He’s done some very innovative things. He’s in a spot where he’s spending more than his cash flow.”
BP Capital Management, the investment firm Pickens founded in 1996, held 570,055 shares (CHK:US) of Chesapeake as of Dec. 31, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Its biggest equity holdings were BP Plc (BP/) and McMoRan Exploration Co. (MMR:US)
Pickens said the price of West Texas Intermediate oil could reach as high as $128 a barrel later this year. The oil for June delivery traded at about $96 a barrel yesterday.
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