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Shell picks Ben van Beurden as surprise new chief

Royal Dutch Shell has named Ben van Beurden, a 30-year company veteran, as its new chief executive in an unexpected appointment.

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By : 9:21AM BST 09 Jul 2013

The Anglo-Dutch energy giant said on Tuesday morning that Mr Van Beurden, 55, will take charge at the start of next year, with current CEO Peter Voser remaining at Shell until May.

When Mr Voser stunned investors by resigning two months ago, Mr Van Beurden (pictured right) was not believed to be one of the frontrunners, with chief financial officer Simon Henry touted as a likely successor. Mr Van Beurden runs Shell’s downstream business, which sells petrol to consumers and industry, and is a relative unknown.

Other potential candidates had been Marvin Odum and Andy Brown, senior players in the more profitable upstream oil exploration and production business.

“Ben has deep knowledge of the industry and proven executive experience across a range of Shell businesses,” chairman Jorma Ollila said.

“[He] will continue to drive and further develop the strategic agenda that we have set out, to generate competitive returns for our shareholders.”

Mr Ollila added that Mr Van Beurden was hired “after a comprehensive assessment and review of internal and external candidates”

Mr Van Beurden joined Shell in 1983 and has had a number of different roles across the company. The Dutch national, who is married with four children, was made head of the downstream business in January.

In May, Mr Voser said he was leaving Shell after 29 years to pursue a “lifestyle change”. The Swiss national has been chief executive for four years and is credited with rebuilding the company’s reputation since rejoining as chief financial officer in 2004 following a short stint at ABB.

Andrew Whittock, an analyst at Liberum Capital, said Mr Van Beurden is “not well known to the investment community”, although it is “not a complete surprise the CEO role has rotated back to a Dutchman”.

Royal Dutch Shell’s shares dipped on his appointment but rebounded to rise 14.5p, or 0.7pc, in early trading.

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