Shell's renaissance CEO Voser to retire early

Thu May 2, 2013 7:48am EDT
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By Andrew Callus

LONDON (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell's (RDSa.L: Quote) 54-year old chief executive Peter Voser is to retire next year in a surprise early departure he said was driven by a desire for a change of lifestyle.

Over the past nine years the softly spoken and widely respected Swiss national has helped drive the group's structural reorganization and recovery from sector laggard to a leading position in the burgeoning industry of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

He took over as finance director of Europe's top oil company in 2004 amid the board-level bloodshed that followed its shocking downgrade of reserves estimates and became CEO in 2009.

His departure comes as the company and the industry face huge new challenges.

Shell is the western world's number two company by production behind Exxon Mobil (XOM.N: Quote). But, like its peers, it is struggling to replace reserves and boost production and faces a squeeze on earnings as costs rise while the price of oil threatens to fall decisively below the psychologically important $100 a barrel level.

Finance director Simon Henry said the company was well-placed for the recent fall in prices.

"We also think there are quite few players in the market, quite a few companies, who actually have bet the farm on $100-plus oil prices. We don't," he said.

"We're structured around a lower oil price so it is not bad for us."   Continued...

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell's CEO Peter Voser speaks at the 4th quarter and full year results presentation in London in this February 2, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Luke Macgregor/Files