Cheniere to Name Calpine's Fusco as New CEO, WSJ Reports

  • Fusco's appointment may come as soon as Thursday, Journal says
  • Natural gas exporter ousted founder Souki as CEO in December

Cheniere Energy Inc., which became the first company to export U.S. shale gas in February, is planning to tap former Calpine Corp. Chief Executive Officer Jack Fusco to lead the company, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Fusco’s appointment as the chief executive officer of the Houston-based natural gas company may come as soon as Thursday, the Wall Street Journal said Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. Fusco would replace Neal Shear, a former head of Morgan Stanley’s commodities division who was named Cheniere’s interim CEO after the company’s board ousted founder Charif Souki.

The news comes less than five months after Souki was fired for what he described as a disagreement over the future of the company. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, Cheniere’s biggest shareholder, told CNBC in an interview last month that he played an “instrumental” role in his termination, adding that Souki had “harebrained ideas.” The exporter’s stock has plunged by almost 60 percent in the past year, weighed down by the collapse in oil prices.

Faith Parker, a Cheniere spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to telephone and e-mailed requests for comment.

Fusco, 58, was chief executive officer of Calpine from August 2008 to May 2014, the power generator’s website shows. He started as a member of Calpine’s board at the same time and became executive chairman in May 2014. His term as executive chairman of the board expired on Wednesday, according to a regulatory filing.

Fusco’s compensation at Calpine was $1.53 million last year. That included a salary that totaled $675,658. Fusco stepped down as CEO at Calpine “as part of a planned leadership transition,” the company said in a Nov. 7, 2013, statement.

Before joining Calpine, Fusco was CEO of an independent power company Texas Genco LLC and was an energy investment advisor before that, Calpine’s website shows.

The shale revolution of the past decade that flooded the lower 48 states with more gas than needed spurred the U.S. to look at boosting exports. The surge in supplies was so unexpected that it prompted companies like Cheniere, which had built import terminals, to spend billions of dollars more to supercool the fuel into LNG so it can be shipped away on tankers.

Cheniere is preparing for the startup of its second liquefaction unit at the Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana. It has announced plans for seven units, or trains, and can accommodate four more at its two sites in Louisiana and Corpus Christi, Texas.

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