Shares of Chesapeake Energy Corp. rose nearly 6 percent before Monday's opening bell on published reports that billionaire investor Carl Icahn has bought a significant stake in the natural gas company.
Citing people families with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported late Sunday that the Oklahoma City company expects Icahn to disclose his stake soon. The company is holding a conference call at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
The prospect of an activist investor arrives as the company tries to raise cash through asset sales.
A series of negative headlines has called Chesapeake's leadership and oversight into question recently, sending its stock tumbling about 42 percent over the last eight weeks.
News reports revealed that co-founder and CEO Aubrey McClendon took out personal loans from a company while that company was planning to buy Chesapeake assets.
Reuters also reported that McClendon ran a private hedge fund that made bets on the price of oil and natural gas.
McClendon has since agreed to give up his board chairmanship. It's also ending a program that allows him to make personal investments in the company's wells. On Friday, Chesapeake said McClendon received $108.6 million from January to April from sales of company well assets.
Chesapeake shares tumbled 14 percent Friday after the company said some of its planned sales could be delayed. Shares rebounded somewhat in after-hours trading, however, on news that the company received a $3 billion loan from Goldman Sachs and Jefferies Group.
Chesapeake said late Friday that it plans to complete $9 billion to $11.5 billion in asset sales during the remainder of 2012 and will use part of the proceeds from those sales to pay back the loan. The company previously outlined plans to sell as much as $14 billion of assets this year.
Chesapeake shares rose 86 cents to $15.67 in premarket trading.
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