Chesapeake was once the nation’s No. 2 natural gas producer, thanks to early bets on fracking. Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake’s late founder and CEO, was considered one of the leaders of the shale boom that transformed the United States into the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer. But more recently, bankruptcy rumors had swirled around Chesapeake (CHK) as the company grappled with depressed energy prices, a poorly timed push into oil and a mountain of debt.
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The coronavirus crisis exacerbated those challenges. Despite a recent recovery to $40 a barrel, the price of oil has fallen sharply this year because of excess supply and a sharp drop in demand caused by worldwide stay-at-home orders. Chesapeake’s share price has dropped more than 93% since January, from $172 to $11.85 as of close on Friday.