HOUSTON – Two months after activist investor Carl Icahn boosted his stake in Cheniere Energy for the second time in two weeks, the company announced the departure of its co-founder and chief executive.
The company was the first to be granted permission by the U.S. to export gas and has built massive liquid natural gas export terminals to do so. Those exports are expected to begin any day now.
Icahn first revealed a sizeable stake in Cheniere in August, then two weeks later announced that he had upped that stake to more than 11 per cent. The company agreed to seat two of his associates on the board and on Monday, announced that it was replacing Charif Souki, who helped to found the company and has ambitiously tried expand the company’s reach after the U.S became a huge producer of natural gas, as well as crude.
Under Souki, Cheniere transformed import facilities, no longer needed, into export terminals for natural gas.
Icahn, who typically pushes for changes at companies in which makes large investments, has called the Houston company undervalued. Shares of Cheniere Energy Inc. have fallen 24 per cent over the past three months, outpaced by declining prices for natural gas.
Cheniere named board member Neal Shear as interim president and CEO and appointed board member Andrea Botta as chairman.
Shear has served as a Cheniere director since last year, while Botta has been a board member since 2010.
Cheniere said that it will immediately begin a search for a new CEO.