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The Times: Cox joins the ‘top table’ as BP prepares for life after Browne

The Times: Cox joins the ‘top table’ as BP prepares for life after Browne

Lucinda Kemeny

May 02, 2004

VIVIENNE COX has been quietly promoted to the “top table” at BP, cementing her position as one of Britain’s most powerful businesswomen.

The new role at the world’s second-largest oil group also makes Cox the most high- profile female in the industry.

Lord Browne, chief executive, last week told senior staff that Cox, currently group vice-president for integrated supply and trading, and Andy Inglis, group vice-president for exploration and production, would both be elevated to executive vice-president status from July.

Cox and Inglis will join Tony Hayward, chief executive of exploration and production, John Manzoni, chief executive of refining and marketing, Iain Conn, chief executive of petrochemicals, and David Allen, group chief of staff, in a special pool of young talent from which the future chief executive of the company will come. Browne, expected to step down within five years, said his “top table” was the place where all key BP decisions were made.

Cox, 45, is a BP lifer, having joined the company in 1981 with a chemistry degree from Oxford University. She joined the board of Eurotunnel in 2001, but a shareholder rebellion ousted her and the rest of the board last month.

Cox was No 19 in last year’s Fortune magazine list of the world’s most powerful women, but otherwise has managed to keep a low profile, giving few press interviews. It is likely that Cox and Inglis will also join the main board, but until then their salaries will not be disclosed.

News of her promotion at BP comes only days after rival Shell removed Judy Boynton, its finance director and most senior female executive, as part of a wider shake-up after three oil-reserve downgrades.

Shell has been approaching candidates to replace Lord Oxburgh as chairman before his temporary post ends next year. The company has so far been turned down, however, with all candidates stressing the need for the group to agree to reform its corporate structure ahead of any of them deciding to join.

Shell shareholders want a single board with an external chairman. They will push their demands when they meet Jeroen van der Veer, chairman of the board of Royal Dutch/ Shell, and Malcolm Brinded, head of exploration and production, at a series of meetings starting tomorrow.

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