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Chesapeake Energy's Biggest Investor Raises Stake

The company expects $7 billion in divestitures during the third quarter, helping to propel overall 2012 asset sales to over $14 billion.

Those sales are seen by analysts and ratings agencies as key to the company's outlook and have been a key management benchmark for most of 2012, as revelations about CEO McClendon's personal dealings and federal investigations into the company's operations cloud its outlook.

Meanwhile, Chesapeake's core operations also are showing signs of strength as natural gas rallied throughout 2012 after hitting a near decade lows at the beginning of the year, and its production from liquids -- natural gas liquids and oil -- continues to rise.

While the recent rise in Chesapeake shares reflects efforts to repair its finances and corporate governance, and the reversal in the natural gas trade, investors and analysts are awaiting key events in the second half of 2012.

In second quarter earnings, McClendon maintained his confidence in Permian asset sales but said a Mississippi Lime joint venture could be deferred until 2013. McClendon also said the company would dedicate its oil and gas focus to just 10 basins, after previously embarking on a "land grab" of shale drilling assets across the U.S.

A shoring up of the balance sheet will remain a key focus for the oil and gas company in 2012. Moody's calculates the company needs to sell $7 billion in assets in 2012 to avoid a ratings downgrade and a breach of its debt covenants.

In the second quarter, Southeastern also bolstered stakes in Consol Energy (CNX - Get Report), Warren Buffett-run Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) and opened a $100 million-plus position in insurer Leucadia National (LUK ), according to an Aug. 14 13F filings with the SEC.

For more on Carl Icahn, see his investment portfolio. For more on energy stocks, see the energy stocks bought and sold by hedge funds in the latest quarter.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York

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