Gas Magnate Loses Luxury Aspen Home to UBS Subsidiary

Gas Magnate Loses Luxury Aspen Home to UBS Subsidiary

He's considered one of the architects of the US liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, for which the US is one of the world's top suppliers. At times, Charif Souki was one of its highest-paid executives. He founded Cheniere Energy, which pioneered chilled US shale gas transportation overseas.

But the one-time pioneer has fallen low. After a heated argument with hedge fund icon Carl Icahn, Souki was fired by Cheniere. With Tellurian, also a gas exporter, he could not build on earlier successes, currently leaving him in financial trouble. This year, his bankers stripped him of most of his Tellurian shares in a dispute over a bad loan.

The Luxury Boat has Sailed Away

Among other things, his most valuable sailboat, the «Tango,» was seized. Souki, in turn, accused his creditors of selling the Tellurian shares at an inopportune time, which his lenders denied. According to court documents filed in August, he owes his lenders at least $99 million.

Souki now faces the prospect of losing the roof over his head because of the dispute with UBS and other lenders. A fund managed by UBS hedge fund subsidiary UBS O'Connor and other creditors of the gas magnate is on the verge of taking over his Colorado ranch valued at $30.5 million, «Bloomberg» (behind paywall) reports.

Souki's creditors were the winning bidders for his Aspen Valley ranch after an auction under Chapter 11 creditor protection proceedings, according to court documents filed Tuesday. O'Connor, a Chicago-based hedge fund firm, is the crown jewel of UBS Asset Management.

Luxury Aspen Ranch

The ranch near the posh ski resort of Aspen is described in court documents as an 813-acre estate with barns and luxury homes. Souki's family real estate firm and his private office sold three of the houses on the ranch in 2021. A purchase agreement attached to the bankruptcy filing Tuesday says the lenders will receive about 282 acres of land and the homes that go with it.

The award will allow Souki's creditors to forgive some of the debt. Attorneys for the insolvent holding company that owns the ranch tried to dissuade Souki's creditors from that strategy. However, the parties agreed to withdraw the offer only if an outside buyer bids at least $40 million for the ranch. The courts must still approve the sale. | October 26, 2023

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