Cheniere Energy CEO Charif Souki
Cheniere Energy CEO Charif Souki

(Bloomberg) – Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Charif Souki emerged as the highest paid U.S. executive in 2013, receiving $142 million and beating Gamco Investors Inc.’s Mario Gabelli and Och-Ziff Capital Management Group’s James Levin.

Souki’s compensation last year included a $133 million stock award that vests as his company hits certain financial and operational goals, according to a regulatory filing yesterday from the Houston-based natural-gas exporter, which has never posted an annual profit. He also received a $3.68 million cash bonus and a salary of $800,000, the filing shows.

The co-founder and chief executive officer of Cheniere becomes the top-paid executive among U.S.-based companies with a fiscal year ending Sept. 1 or later that have filed proxy statements for 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. His $142 million pay package tops that for Levin, who runs global credit at Och-Ziff and received $119 million last year, and Gabelli, founder of money-management firm Gamco who was paid $85 million.

“Whoever came up with the objectives is probably smiling, and everybody who bought into this stock early on, they probably want to hug him,” Brent Longnecker, CEO of executive compensation consulting firm Longnecker & Associates, said by phone from the company’s Houston office.“They aren’t worried about his compensation.”

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