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Times Online Comment: Beachcombing

March 28, 2007
Steve Hawkes

Jeroen van der Veer took over a poisoned chalice in 2004 when he stepped into the breach at Royal Dutch Shell.

Since then he has done all that could have been expected of him.

He has restored the group’s reputation and positioned it for growth.

His problem is the legacy of the reserves scandal that led to his elevation in the first place.

Shell simply needs to find more oil and gas around the world, or risk falling behind its fierce rivals BP and Exxon.

Malcolm Brinded is the clear favourite to take over in 2009, but mainly because there is no apparent alternative.

Tony Hayward had three competitors before landing the top job at BP.

In persuading Mr van der Veer to stick around, Shell is signalling that it wants to choose from a larger pool of candidates.

The odds on Mr Brinded taking over could begin to lengthen.

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