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BP edges closer to new chairman

Daily Telegraph

Peter Sutherland, the chairman of BP, has agreed to extend his tenure at the oil giant in order to facilitate the potential appointment of Paul Skinner, the Rio Tinto chairman, as his successor, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

By Mark Kleinman and Russell Hotten
BP chairman Peter Sutherland.

BP chairman Peter Sutherland. Photo: BLOOMBERG

Sutherland, who is due to retire at BP’s annual meeting next spring, has told boardroom colleagues that he is prepared to stay on until the summer of 2009.

Although Skinner is the preferred choice of the BP board and is likely to be interested in the post, he has refused to hold conclusive discussions with BP while the fate of BHP Billiton’s hostile takeover bid for Rio Tinto is unresolved.

The European Commission is expected to send a statement of objections to BHP shortly, setting out potential disposals it might be expected to make in order to secure approval for the merger. However, if BHP does secure the takeover, it is unlikely to be completed until well into next year.

Skinner, a former executive at Shell, has been chairman of Rio since 2003 and is expected to step down next year regardless of the BP job and the outcome of the BHP bid. He was unavailable for comment last night. BP, which reports third-quarter results this week, declined to comment.

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