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The worst of times are the best of times for Voser

Financial Times

By Jonathan Guthrie

Published: July 30 2009 21:27 | Last updated: July 30 2009 21:27

The scallop, a generally sedentary mollusc, is given to moments of panic when it flaps around like the wind-up false teeth sold in joke shops. A similar spasm is agitating managers at Royal Dutch Shell, which has the shellfish as its emblem. Incoming chief executive Peter Voser told an analysts’ meeting on Thursday: “We have too many people doing business with each other and not with the outside world.” One-fifth of senior executives have already gone.

Outgoing chief executive Jeroen van der Veer, who was solid rather than brilliant, has left Mr Voser a useful legacy. It includes a cleaned-up corporate structure that will support acquisitions and investments that will start paying off in new production next year. Importantly, Mr Voser is untainted by the reserves mis-reporting scandal that rocked the Anglo-Dutch concern in 2004. He safely sat out that little imbroglio as chief financial officer of engineer ABB, during a two-year interlude in his 27-year career at Shell.

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