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Shell Names Voser Its CEO


OCTOBER 30, 2008


LONDON — Royal Dutch Shell PLC named Chief Financial Officer Peter Voser as its new boss, rewarding a man who helped restore the Anglo-Dutch company’s battered reputation with investors after an accounting scandal in 2004.

Mr. Voser, a Swiss citizen, will succeed Dutchman Jeroen van der Veer, 61 years old, who retires as chief executive next summer.



The battle for the succession at Shell was long thought to be a three-horse race between Mr. Voser, 50, Malcolm Brinded, the company’s head of exploration and production, and Linda Cook, the American head of its gas and power business.

Mr. Voser was a more familiar face than the other two, regularly presenting earnings results to analysts and journalists where he often had to handle questions on touchy subjects like the violence that plagues Shell’s Nigeria operations.

“Peter has the experience, qualities and personal leadership to drive Shell forward, building on the strong position established by Jeroen van der Veer,” Shell Chairman Jorma Ollila said in a statement.

The market cheered the announcement, with Shell’s Class A shares closing up 9% at 1,669 pence ($26.27) in London. “He’s steadied the ship at Shell and is seen as a safe pair of hands,” said Mark Lacey, a fund manager and equity analyst at Investec Asset Management in London.

Mr. Voser will head a company that has worked hard to win back the investor confidence damaged by the accounting scandal of 2004, when it emerged that Shell had overstated its oil reserves, a crucial investor measure of an oil company. Later that year it carried out a sweeping restructuring, merging its British and Dutch parents under a U.S.-style chief executive and a single board headquartered in The Hague.

Shell still faces huge challenges. With oil-rich nations clawing back control of their natural resources and shutting out foreign investors, it has become increasingly hard for big oil companies like Shell to boost production and reserves. Meanwhile, militant and criminal violence in Nigeria has badly impacted its operations there. Shell’s global output has fallen in each of the past five years. The company will report third-quarter results Thursday.

Analysts said they didn’t expect Mr. Voser to change strategy at Shell, which has long been focused on a new generation of “legacy” assets in such places as Canada’s oil sands and Russia’s remote island of Sakhalin. Many of its big new projects have been in the pipeline for years and aren’t due to enter production until the next decade.

Mr. Voser received a degree in business administration from the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich in 1982 and joined Shell the same year. In March 2002 he began a two-year stint as chief financial officer at technology firm Asea Brown Boveri Ltd., moving back to Shell as finance chief in 2004. In 2005, he was appointed to the board of Swiss bank UBS AG.

A spokesman for UBS said Mr. Voser’s promotion at Shell isn’t expected to affect his board seat at the bank.

—Katharina Bart in Zurich contributed to this article.Write to Guy Chazan at [email protected]


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