Bloomberg Billionaires Index

View profiles for each of the world’s 500 richest people, see the biggest movers, and compare fortunes or track returns.

# 388 Michael Smith $6.23B

Random fact: Texas governor asked Freeport to shut down infrastructure during cold snap.


Smith is the founder and chief executive of Freeport LNG, the second-largest liquefied natural gas company in the US based on production capacity. The Houston, Texas-based group can liquefy and export more than 2.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day. Smith also founded Basin Exploration before it was sold for $410 million in 2001.

As of :
Last change No change
YTD change No change
Biggest asset Freeport LNG Development
Country / Region United States
Age 66
Industry Energy
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Michael Smith's net worth of $6.23B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Smith's fortune is derived from his majority stake in Freeport LNG Development, the second-largest liquefied natural gas company in the U.S. based on production capacity. The Houston, Texas-based firm has enough capacity to liquefy and export 2.2 billion cubic feet of gas per day, according to its website.

Former co-owner Global Infrastructure Partners agreed to sell 25.7% of Freeport LNG for $2.5 billion, according to a November 2021 press release. The deal valued Freeport LNG at $9.7 billion. Smith retains about 63% of the closely held company, according to its website in July 2022. His stake is valued in this analysis based on the 2021 transaction.

Heather Browne, a spokesperson for Smith, declined to comment on the net worth calculation.


Family: Unknown, No children

Smith was six credits shy of a degree from Colorado State University in 1978 when he decided to drop out “to ski,” according to a university magazine article. While working in real estate, Smith and some associates leased land near the site of a recent natural gas discovery in Colorado and soon began fielding offers to drill wells on the land, according to the Houston Business Journal.

Smith founded Basin Exploration in 1981 and served as its chairman and chief executive officer. Basin later went public and was sold for $410 million to Stone Energy in 2001.

Smith founded Freeport LNG in 2002. He originally wanted to use it to import liquefied natural gas, but as U.S. oil and gas production grew in the 2010s Smith repurposed its infrastructure to export LNG.

  • 1992 Takes oil and gas firm Basin Exploration public.
  • 2001 Sells Basin Exploration for $410 million to Stone Energy.
  • 2008 Freeport begins import operations.
  • 2019 Freeport ships its first LNG commissioning cargo.