Cheniere Energy’s board of directors voted this weekend to replace CEO Charif Souki, as the company prepares to become the first US mainland LNG exporter. The decision was made at a board meeting this weekend, where directors took aim at Souki’s objective of building the company beyond its core purpose of exporting LNG, according to various sources.
Souki had proposed that Cheniere construct a second facility on the Texas Gulf Coast before its first, located in Louisiana, is fully operational. He has wanted the company to expand into other areas of the energy sector, even though Cheniere has not turned a profit in almost 2 decades in business.
Souki worked at Cheniere for 19 years. He was previously ranked as the highest-paid public company CEO in the US with a salary in 2013 of almost $142 million- until December 2014, when Cheniere announced that he would receive a base salary of $1.
The leadership shake-up occurs about 4 months after activist investor Carl Icahn acquired a large stake in Cheniere and secured two seats on the board.
Neal A. Shear, a director, will replace Souki as CEO on an interim basis while the company searches for a new leader. “Cheniere is well positioned for growth in the global LNG markets and the Board has the utmost confidence in our management team given its significant accomplishments against key milestones,” Shear said.
Meanwhile, director Andrea Botta will be the Cheniere’s chairman. She spoke to the company’s plans going forward, “With Sabine Pass Liquefaction’s first of five LNG trains nearing completion and with the overall construction of both Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi projects advancing as planned, Cheniere will transition into an operating company with stable and growing positive cash flow underpinned by long-term offtake agreements with investment grade energy companies worldwide.”
Lead independent director David B. Kilpatrick said, “The Board of Directors thanks Charif for his entrepreneurial spirit over the past 19 years. Under his leadership, Cheniere was established as a first mover in LNG exports and is positioned to become a significant player in the global LNG markets.”