Cheniere Energy names Jack Fusco CEO

Jack Fusco was named chief executive and chairman of Cheniere Energy Monday, ending a leadership search that began after activist investor Carl Icahn ousted the company’s founder.

Fusco will take the reins at Cheniere energy little more than two months after the first train at the Houston company’s massive liquefaction plant at Sabine Pass rumbled to life, generating both the lower 48’s first liquefied natural gas and significant cash for Cheniere.

Fusco’s most pressing task will be to shepherd the company’s remaining liquefaction projects to completion. As trains begin operating and as Cheniere sees the proceeds, Fusco will have control over how the company spends that cash.

“Our priorities will be focused on continued execution and completion of the LNG trains, both under construction and under development, and further commercialization of our LNG portfolio,” Fusco said.

Fusco takes over from Neal Shear, who served as Cheniere’s interim President and CEO starting in December 2015. Shear was named interim CEO after activist investors Carl Icahn ousted Sharif Souki, who founded the company.

Souki’s vision – and his fundraising prowess – helped Cheniere recover from the brink of bankruptcy and become the leader in U.S. liquefied natural gas. But his  push to continue building even as LNG markets weakened irked investors and Icahn, who wanted to see that money instead distributed to shareholders.

Fusco has worked more than 30 years in the energy. He served as chief executive of Calpine, Houston merchant power company that employs about 2,300, from  2008 to 2014 and executive chairman from 2014 to 2016. He will continue to serve on the Calpine board of directors. .

Fusco began his career at Pacific Gas & Electric Company  after graduating from California State University, Sacramento. Thirteen years later, he became a vice president for commodity trading at the New York investment bank  Goldman Sachs, specializing in wholesale electricity. He later helped the merchant power company Orion Power Holdings, where he served a chief executive from 1998 to 2002. In 2004, he became chief executive of  Texas Genco LLC  and guided the company’s merger with NRG in 2006.

“Jack has spent over thirty years in the energy industry and has significant experience leading companies with large-scale, asset-intensive portfolios and implementing corporate strategies focused on capital allocation, strategic developments and optimizing shareholder value,” said said G. Andrea Botta, chairman of Cheniere’s board. “This experience will translate well as we make our transition into one of the top global LNG companies with a platform substantially underpinned with long-term sale and purchase agreements.”

 

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