This excerpt taken from the CHK DEF 14A filed Apr 30, 2009.
ANNUAL ELECTIONS OF DIRECTORS
The Company has been advised that Mr. Gerald R. Armstrong, 910 Sixteenth Street, No. 412, Denver, Colorado 80202-2917, a beneficial owner of 400 shares of the Companys common stock, intends to submit the following proposal at the annual meeting.
RESOLVED, that the shareholders of Chesapeake Energy Corporation request its Board of Directors to take the steps necessary to eliminate classification of terms of the Board of Directors to require that all Directors stand for election annually. The Board declassification shall be completed in a manner that does not affect the unexpired terms of the previously-elected Directors.
Shareholders Supporting Statement
In last years annual meeting, owners of 231,525,541 shares (61%) worth $13,440,057,655 voted FOR this proposal; however, our Board failed to begin the process of adopting it. This Board also turned its back on sound and ethical practices which caused our chairman to be forced to sell nearly all of his ownership in Chesapeake30,217,232 shares.
The proponent believes the election of directors is the strongest way that shareholders influence the directors of any corporation. Currently, our board of directors is divided into three classes with each class serving three-year terms. Because of this structure, shareholders may only vote for one-third of the directors each year. This is not in the best interest of shareholders because it reduces accountability.
Xcel Energy Inc., Devon Energy Corporation, ConocoPhillips, ONEOK, Inc., CenterPoint Energy, Inc., Hess Corporation have adopted this practice and it has been approved by shareholders at CH Energy Group, Inc., Central Vermont Public Service Corporation, Black Hills Corporation, Spectra Energy Corp., and several others, upon presentation of a similar resolution by the proponent during 2008. The proponent is a professional investor who has studied this issue carefully.
The performance of our management and our Board of Directors is now being more strongly tested due to economic conditions and the accountability for performance must be given to shareholders whose capital has been entrusted in the form of share investments.
A study by researchers at Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvanias Wharton School titled Corporate Governance and Equity Prices (Quarterly Journal of Economics, February, 2003), looked at the relationship between corporate governance practices (including classified boards) and firm performance. The study found a significant positive link between governance practices favoring shareholders (such as annual directors election) and firm value.
While management may argue that directors need and deserve continuity, management should become aware that continuity and tenure may be best assured when their performance as directors is exemplary and is deemed beneficial to the best interests of the corporation and it shareholders.
The proponent regards as unfounded the concern expressed by some that annual election of all directors could leave companies without experienced directors in the event that all incumbents are voted out by shareholders. In the unlikely event that shareholders do vote to replace all directors, such a decision would express dissatisfaction with the incumbent directors and reflect the need for change.
If you agree that shareholders may benefit from greater accountability afforded by annual election of all directors, please vote FOR this proposal.