Charif Souki. Image courtesy of EnerComInc/Youtube.

Cheniere Energy has named Neal A. Shear interim CEO and president after the board decided to oust company founder Charif Souki.

The C-Suite shuffling comes just days after famed investor Carl Icahn boosted his stake in the company to 13.88 percent, Bloomberg said.

Icahn also won two board seats at Cheniere earlier this year.

“There is no doubt that Charif Souki has proven that he is a talented entrepreneur but at this time there is also little doubt that the board wished to move the company in a direction that differed greatly from the path Mr. Souki wanted,” Ichan said in a statement.

Souki told Bloomberg that he and the board were not seeing eye-to-eye on plans for the company’s future.

“The board of the company has decided to run it as a quasi-utility until they see how the financial markets are going. They decided an entrepreneur was not the best person to run the company,” Souki told the news agency.

The Houston-based company did not disclose what prompted their decision to replace Souki.

Shear has also been appointed the chairman of the boards of Cheniere Energy Partners, the general partner of Cheniere Energy Partners and Cheniere Energy Partners LP Holdings.

The appointments are effective immediately.

Shear, a member of Cheniere’s board since 2014, is a 30-year industry veteran with experience managing global commodities activities and investments across a variety of asset classes.

Cheniere also appointed board member G. Andrea Botta as chairman of the board, effective immediately.

“The changes announced today will serve Cheniere well in creating and sustaining shareholder value, while continuing to explore a limited number of strategic initiatives within the LNG industry,” Botta said.

The company added that it will immediately begin a search for a permanent CEO.

Souki garnered headlines during his tenure at the company for being the most richly compensated executive in the United States.

His exit comes as the company prepares to become the first U.S. firm to export natural gas to non-free trade agreement companies.

Cheniere won final approval in April from the U.S. Energy Department to export domestically produced liquefied natural gas from its Corpus Christi Liquefaction Project to non-free trade agreement countries.

The Corpus Christi Liquefaction Project can export up to 2.1 billion standard cubic feet per day of natural gas for 20 years.


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