Ex-Chesapeake CEO McClendon raises $1.7 bln to drill in Utica Shale


Oct 9 (Reuters) - An energy firm run by Aubrey McClendon,the former Chesapeake Energy Corp chief executive, hasraised $1.7 billion to drill on shale acreage in Ohio's UticaShale, the firm said on Wednesday.

Proceeds will initially be used to acquire and drill onabout 110,000 acres in the southern portion of the Utica Shale.

Drilling operations will begin with one rig in the fourthquarter of 2013, and the firm plans to increase drillingactivity to at least 12 rigs over the next 2 to 3 years, thefirm said.

McClendon, who co-founded Chesapeake in 1989, left in Aprilafter clashes over spending with the company's board and aseries of Reuters investigations led to civil and criminalprobes of the company.

An internal investigation by Chesapeake's board has clearedMcClendon of any intentional wrongdoing.

American Energy Utica LLC's (AEU) lead equity investor isprivate equity firm Energy & Minerals Group and additionalequity was provided by First Reserve Corp and the energy firm'smanagement.

AEU's debt investors include GSO Capital Partners, thecredit investing division of Blackstone Group LP,Magnetar Capital and BlackRock Inc.

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