Ex-Cheniere CEO Souki's Pay Gained Sevenfold Last Year

  • Charif Souki's compensation totaled $54 million last year
  • His interim replacement, Neal Shear, received $1.37 million

Former Cheniere Energy Inc. Chief Executive Officer Charif Souki made $54 million in his last year at the helm of the U.S. natural gas exporter, a seven-fold increase from 2014 thanks almost entirely to cash tied to the company’s stock and other incentives.

Souki, who said he was fired in December because of his plans to expand the company’s operations, made $53.8 million in non-equity, incentive compensation, up from his total pay of $7.7 million in 2014, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Souki’s replacement, interim chief executive officer Neal Shear, received $1.37 million for the almost three weeks that he served in the top job last year.

Souki was ousted just two months before Cheniere became the first exporter of U.S. shale gas, sending a tanker of the liquefied natural gas from its Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana. Since then, the Houston-based company has shipped at least five more cargoes of LNG overseas. Souki has said he was fired after a dispute with the board about the company’s future and after clashing with billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn over strategy.

Souki’s actual salary was a dollar last year, Thursday’s regulatory filing shows.

Cheniere didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the filing. The company described Souki’s departure at the time as a leadership transition and thanked Souki for his service. It didn’t provide a reason for his termination.

Souki said by e-mail that he hadn’t seen Thursday’s filing and declined to comment.

Cheniere’s stock dropped 1.5 percent to close at $37.21 in New York on Thursday. Shares have fallen almost 52 percent over the past year.

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