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Chesapeake says director Louis Simpson leaving

Chesapeake Energy Corporation's 50 acre campus is seen in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Sisney
Chesapeake Energy Corporation's 50 acre campus is seen in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Steve Sisney

(Reuters) - Chesapeake Energy Corp said on Friday that director Louis Simpson has resigned from the U.S. oil and gas company's board of directors and he will be replaced by an executive who was recommended by a top shareholder.

Chesapeake's board has undergone big changes following a governance crisis and liquidity crunch last year. Its largest investors Carl Icahn and Mason Hawkins at Southeastern Asset Management effectively took control of the board last June. Former Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon stepped down April 1.

Simpson, who has served on Chesapeake's board since 2011, is to be replaced by Thomas Ryan, chief executive officer of Service Corp International . Houston-based SCI is the nation's largest operator of funeral homes.

Simpson, 76, whose term on the board expires in June, is traveling and could not immediately be reached for comment. Chesapeake said he was leaving to "pursue his business interests."

Ryan, 47, who has been CEO of Service Corp since 2005, will stand for election at the company's board meeting on June 14. He was recommended to the board by shareholder Southeastern Asset Management, Chesapeake said.

Simpson, who pushed for governance changes at Chesapeake, is chairman of investment firm SQ Advisors. Previously he was CEO, Capital Operations, of GEICO Corp, a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

(Reporting By Anna Driver; Editing by Gary Hill and Gunna Dickson)

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