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Daily Telegraph: Finland’s mobiles guru to head Shell

Daily Telegraph: Finland’s mobiles guru to head Shell

“Royal Dutch Shell yesterday ended its 10-month hunt for a new chairman with the surprise hiring of Finnish mobile phone guru Jorma Ollila.”: “The appointment almost completes the revamping of Shell’s board triggered by last year’s oil reserves overbooking scandal, which was partly blamed on the company’s bureaucratic structure.”

Friday 5 August2005

By Dominic White (Filed: 05/08/2005)

Mr Ollila, who announced his decision to retire as chairman and chief executive of Nokia this week, will get £500,000 a year when he becomes Shell’s non-executive chairman next June.

A corporate hero in his homeland, the 54-year-old will replace Aad Jacobs, who has been chairman of the Royal Dutch arm of the group since 2002 and is due to retire next year when he turns 70.

Mr Jacobs recently hinted at a successor who was neither British nor Dutch to avoid upsetting the oil giant’s delicate balance of power.

The appointment almost completes the revamping of Shell’s board triggered by last year’s oil reserves overbooking scandal, which was partly blamed on the company’s bureaucratic structure.

The world’s third-largest oil company relinquished its century-old Anglo-Dutch ownership structure last month as part of efforts to rebuild its image with investors.

“We were looking worldwide for a chairman with international standing, a global outlook and proven success in managing a complex organisation,” said Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, Shell deputy chairman and senior independent director. “In Jorma Ollila we found all these qualities, and more.”

As supervisory board chairman, Mr Ollila will not be involved in the day-to-day running of Shell but will oversee changes to the management and company structure. He will work between two and three days a week at Shell’s headquarters in the Hague.

Royal Dutch Shell B shares slipped 13p to £18.51, although major shareholders appeared to welcome his appointment.

Eureffect asset manager Rene Bastiaenen said: “People may wonder what experience he has in oil, but I think it is important he has a lot of experience in the global environment. He doesn’t have to know about oil, because his role will be to supervise the company as a whole.”

Mr Ollila is best known for transforming Nokia from a clunky conglomerate into the world’s biggest mobile phone maker. He joined in 1985 from Citibank, where he had worked for eight years.

At that time, Nokia, which had begun life as a paper manufacturer in 1865 at a riverside wood pulp mill in southern Finland, still made everything from toilet paper to television sets.

After a boardroom shake-up in 1992, Mr Ollila became chief executive and started switching its focus to telecoms equipment, selling off other operations.

Nokia overtook America’s Motorola in 1998 to become the world’s largest mobile handset maker and for a time during the technology bubble it was Europe’s most valuable company by market value.

The shares have yet to recover those levels, and Nokia has been accused of resting on its laurels.

Married with three children, Mr Ollila studied in Britain and the US and is said to be a keen tennis player.

He said on Monday he was considering another role beyond Nokia, saying: “I will look at something which will make me happy to work for another 10 years-plus.”

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