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BP chairman’s last challenge

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BP chairman’s last challenge

By Emiko Terazono

Published: June 13 2008 03:00 | Last updated: June 13 2008 03:00

Having managed the succession of Tony Hayward, the battle for TNK-BP looks like being Peter Sutherland’s last great challenge after 11 years as BP’s chairman.

He is into his last 12 months at the oil group, having said he will step down at next year’s annual meeting. The outcome of the dispute over TNK-BP will determine whether that final year is judged a success or a failure.

His plain speaking on BP’s Russian problems in Stockholm yesterday was entirely in character for the bullish former rugby player. He does not shrink from confrontation, most recently in the argument with Lord Browne , BP’s previous chief executive, about when he should step down.

BP aims to have a successor appointed by the end of the year, but it seems to be struggling to find someone of a suitable calibre.

The new chairman is more likely to be someone with an oil industry background. One highly eligible candidate would be Paul Skinner , chairman of Rio Tinto. He knows the oil business inside out, having had a 40-year career at Shell, and is widely admired for his record at Rio.

There is one slight problem. Mr Skinner already has a job, and is hardly in a position to run out on Rio when it is being pursued by BHP Billiton.

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