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Voser’s cutting remarks are needed

Daily Telegraph

Change is afoot at the oil giant.

By Rowena Mason
Published: 10:27PM BST 30 Jul 2009

You would have thought Peter Voser, the new chief executive of Shell, was talking about a pointless quango, not one of the world’s largest companies with annual revenues of £458bn.

“We are stripping away layers and overlaps that are of no value,” he said as he announced half-year results yesterday before going on to accuse staff at the organisation of talking too much amongst themselves and not enough to the outside world.

For an organisation usually so careful and on-message, it was uncharacteristically blunt. But the company’s former
finance director has no choice but to show that he is swinging an axe at unnecessary swathes of Shell middle management.

It comes at a time when Shell is being aggressively out-chopped by BP. Tony Hayward, chief executive of Shell’s closest rival, has managed $2bn of cost-cutting in the first half alone and is looking to accelerate the pace of savings.

As demand for oil shows no sign of improving, it will be the grimmest reaper – whether Voser or Hayward – who brings their company through the recession with margins and dividends preserved.

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