Shell says the search for Voser’s replacement has already begun

City A.M. Reporter
THE HUNT for Royal Dutch Shell’s next chief executive is underway, its chairman said yesterday, after CEO Peter Voser made what could be his last appearance at the oil group’s annual shareholder meeting.

Voser announced his surprise decision three weeks ago to step down in the first half of 2014, before his 56th birthday, and less than five years into the role.

“The process has started,” Shell chairman Jorma Ollila said after the meeting when asked about the succession plan.

Voser said yesterday it was too soon to comment on the possible effects of an ongoing probe into oil price fixing. Shell’s offices were raided along with those of several other firms last week.

Voser has been a pillar of Shell’s new-found stability since he re-joined the company as finance director in October 2004 as part of a wholesale clear-out of disgraced former top management following a reserves accounting scandal.

Employees of the 180-year old Anglo-Dutch group, which traditionally grows its own top executives, believe an import is unlikely to get the top job, but Voser is only the second person to be CEO under a simplified corporate structure introduced in 2005.

Finance director Simon Henry is regarded as a potential front-runner, as is Marvin Odum, head of upstream in the Americas.