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The Guardian: Shell veteran returns to fold

The Guardian: Shell veteran returns to fold

Mark Milner

Friday June 25, 2004

Shell has brought back one of its old boys as it rebuilds a top management team devastated by scandal over oil reserves.

The Anglo-Dutch group has recruited Peter Voser, a Shell veteran of 20 years, who has spent the last two years helping engineering group ABB to rebuild its balance sheet.

He will take over as chief financial officer of Royal Dutch-Shell and will be a member of its committee of managing directors in early October. He will also become a director of Shell Transport and Trading, the British arm of the Anglo-Dutch group.

The 46-year-old Swiss national replaces Judy Boynton, who was one of three top Shell executives to fall victim to revelations that it had overestimated its reserves by a fifth. Chairman Sir Philip Watts and exploration chief Walter van de Vijver also lost their jobs over the scandal, which has triggered a series of legal actions and regulatory investigations.

ABB, where Mr Voser was a member of the turnaround team assembled by chairman and chief executive Jürgen Dorman, paid tribute to his contribution and said the firm was sorry to see him go. During his tenure as finance director, its debt fell by almost half and it disposed of subsidiaries to focus on its power and automation businesses. “We regret his departure but wish him well in his new, bigger, role,” Mr Dorman said yesterday.

Mr Voser joined ABB in early 2002, having spent the previous two decades at Shell in a variety of roles, working in Switzerland, Britain, Argentina and Chile. In his last assignment he was the chief financial officer on the global oil products executive committee.

The announcement of Mr Voser’s appointment comes just days before the annual meetings of both Royal Dutch and Shell Transport and Trading. Directors are expected to be given a rough ride at the annual meetings, even though the group has promised to review governance issues, including its dual structure, which have worried investors.

Investors welcomed his appointment, even though he could be seen as a Shell insider. “There’s already a firework attached to this dinosaur’s tail, and sometimes you need somebody who knows how a dinosaur works,” according to Paul Mumford at Cavendish Asset Management. Shell shares closed up 9p at 417.5p.,3604,1246939,00.html

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