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Shell CEO Peter Voser: Did he jump or was he pushed?

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 11.51.16Why would the issue of payment for loss of office even arise? Perhaps I am wrong but I am left with the impression that his early departure was by mutual consent and on the basis of no compensation for loss of office? In other words the board wanted him to leave early and he agreed?

By John Donovan

I was intrigued by the inclusion of the following statement by Shell in the Remuneration Disclosure for Peter Voser published earlier today:

Payment for loss of office
No payment for loss of office is made or will be made to Peter Voser.”

Consequently I sent the following email to a source with Shell insider knowledge:

Wording seems odd to me?

Why would the issue of payment for loss of office even arise?

Perhaps I am wrong but I am left with the impression that his early departure was by mutual consent and on the basis of no compensation for loss of office?

In other words the board wanted him to leave and he agreed?

This is the reply I received. It does not answer the question, but instead adds to the intrigue.

No idea beyond the widespread rumours that he was pushed (to which the statement may be addressed).

He’s quite young to be taking retirement.
However, the “bottomless pit” of unconventionals (the Lawrence/Odum legacy for which Voser shares responsibility) has perhaps yet to be fully disclosed: don’t forget that until a non-producing asset is formally “written off” it remains on the books as an asset and no loss (other than possible depreciation) needs to be recorded on the balance sheet.
R&D costs and exploration wells are frequently carried on the books of oil companies as assets (even when there is no likelihood of realising any inherent value or any hope of future production) as this makes the bottom line look much better.


From an old EP hand on Jan 2nd, 2014 at 15:04 

Voser must have been pushed or at least eased out of the door. I am not aware of any CEO of a major corporation who resigned at the peak of his tenure in order to ‘spend quality time with his family’. Never heard so much crap in my life. If there was a genuine problem in his family, it would have been made public via some leaks. He will get a lot of time to think over his sins as summarised by John recently as well as his sins when in UBS. I hope he copes. Or will he also join priesthood like Watts?


Since this is about a CEO, different rules may apply from the ones I am aware of. The top are all un a jobgroup ‘UN’ i.e. unspecified and this means each income is negotiated individually. Probably some rough rules still apply but there is a lot of freedom. And the remuneration committee (a couple of non-executive directors or in other words ‘the old boys’…) decides on his income and bonus etc.
Presumably all this is standard legal text.
The way I read it is
1 he resigns from 31/3
2 he returns to his basecountry, probably available for some handover advice and what have you. For sure there is no job for him in Switzerland! I know that the suisse pensionfund is a fat one and the remaining suis are teaming up to think out ideas how to maximise their pension from that fund. Some 10 yrs ago one of them even tried to make the fund break up and hand out the money. He was prepared to accept a lumpsum rather than a pension.
3 Shell pays his relocation costs.  All standard but weird it has to be mentioned. All chickenshit money compared to base salary and bonus.
4 Presumably he is in the suisse pensionfund or will now be in that one. Remember he resigned before and returned so anything is possible with his pension. But let me take away your worries: he will not go hungry….
5 His options vest in a few years and last for another 10 years. When people are made redundant and go on early retirement these options are only valid for 5 years.
6 I am only curious what bonus they will give him. Quite likely something similar as v.d.Veer received after NOT making his targets he received a very big bonus because he had worked very hard and almost made the targets etc etc. The scandal blew over after a few weeks. He just received another big thank-you from his friends. Same as that cow Cook who walked away with a fortune.
So, all in all I see nothing suspicious but you want to keep your finger on the pulse for his bonus. I can see a nice article appearing on your website if they pull the same stunt as with v.d.Veer….


COMMENT POSTED ON SHELL BLOG BY Iain Percival on 2014/01/02

@Old EP Hand: Voser is not the first to step away from Shell at the top to “spend more time with the family”. Maarten van den Bergh surprised us all when he bailed out in 2000 to “spend more time with his family” only to pop up as Chairman of the UK bank Lloyds TSB in 2001. Such a position is not exactly a part time job so one can only speculate as to how much time the family got! Maarten was also a finance man so possibly this is a world of finance thing. I wonder how much of the family Simon Henry sees? Sorry,I’m only joking :-)

(Iain Percival is the retired Global Chief Petroleum Engineer of Shell International)


@Iain we go back a long time…. You are technically correct but I was talking CEOs, not mere underlings. You know, head honchos, the ones who could piss furthest or had the biggest you know what! We all know Maarten did not have the warmest personality of the directors in Shell. Please read this as the ultimate english understatement! Not many tears were shed when he left. Bankers and finance people are genetically quite similar and you don’t want them to run a technical business!

Several more have resigned:
Harry Roels quit because he could not stand the continuous baiting and bullying by Watts anymore. Then he became CEO of RWE and sorted out those krauts very well!
And Frank Chapman was forced to go to Nigeria after doing a first class with honors job on Troll, working 6 years 80 hrs a week and only asked for a short posting close to London to sort his own life out. But no, Watts insisted he had to go to Nigeria, real men go to Nigeria! So Frank just quit. Only then he was immediately offered a blanc cheque to reconsider but he gave Watts the bird and the rest is history.
And then there is Iain Percival who quit to do an MBA. But fortunately he came back to his senses and rejoined to become a (the) top petroleum engineer!

There must be a lot of happiness in the top of Shell! Working for a great company and hoping to become #1! What more can one wish for?


Voser wisely abandons an unstable ship

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