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BP names Svanberg as chairman

Financial Times

By Ben Fenton and Andrew Parker

Published: June 25 2009 07:37 | Last updated: June 25 2009 08:37

BP said on Thursday that it had appointed Carl-Henric Svanberg, chief executive of Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson, to take the place of Peter Sutherland as chairman of the UK oil major.

The decision ends a long search process.

Carl-Henric Svanberg newly appointed chairman of BP

BP has announced that it has appointed Carl-Henric Svanberg (above), chief executive of Swedish telecoms equipment maker Ericsson, to take the place of Peter Sutherland as chairman of the UK oil company.

Mr Svanberg will join the BP board as a non-executive director and chairman designate on September 1 before taking up his role fully on January 1 2010, the company said in a statement.

Mr Svanberg, 57, beat a host of other candidates, including Paul Anderson, the former chief executive of BHP Billiton, on an extensive shortlist.

The search was set back when the previous candidate to emerge from BP’s selection process, Paul Skinner, then chairman of Rio Tinto, was opposed by shareholders because of his support for the mining group’s planned fundraising deal with Chinalco of China, which was subsequently aborted .

Anna Mann, traditionally BP’s favoured adviser on top appointments and now at MWM Consulting, has been working on the search, but other headhunters have also been brought in.

Analysts say that the new chairman of BP faces considerable challenges in guiding the company, which expanded rapidly under Mr Sutherland’s aegis, through tricky waters where demand from the developed world is likely to have reached a plateau, but developing countries are fast increasing their need for oil.

Serving those markets will prove more difficult as national companies are better placed in countries such as India and China to defend their positions.

Tony Hayward, chief executive of BP, said: ”Peter Sutherland has been an outstanding chairman, guiding the company through one of the most successful periods in its history. He will be a hard act to follow.

”But I am sure Carl-Henric will be a worthy successor. He is a businessman of international stature who is recognised for his transformation of Ericsson. Our shared views on many aspects of global business give me great confidence that we will work very effectively together on the next phase of BP’s progress.”

Separately, Ericsson said it had appointed its current chief financial officer, Hans Vestberg, to replace Mr Svanberg as chief executive of the Swedish telecomscompany.

Mr Svanberg has had a broad track record of success with Ericsson, where he became chief executive in 2003, and consolidated its position as the world’s leading manufacturer of mobile phone network equipment.

While rivals such as Alcatel Lucent and Nokia Siemens Networks became distracted by mergers, Mr Svanberg got on with the task of ensuring that Ericsson could maintain its market lead, particularly against newcomer challengers such as Huawei Technologies of China.

However, there was one blot on Mr Svanberg’s copybook at Ericsson, when the company had to issue a profits warning in October 2007, but it has subsequently stabilised under his control and is back on a profitable path.

BP shares opened 0.6 per cent higher in London at 474.3p, while Ericsson shares dipped 0.7 per cent to SKr76.10 in early Stiockholm trading.

EDITOR’S CHOICE

BP statement – Jun-24

Ericsson statement – Jun-24

Energy Source blog – Jun-25

In depth: Oil – Jun-24

TNK-BP acts to hire foreigners– Jun-15

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

FT ARTICLE

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