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The Independent: Shell hires new finance director after reserves scandal


By Michael Harrison, Business Editor

25 June 2004


Shell moved yesterday to fill the gap at finance director level caused by the scandal over its mis-reporting of oil reserves by appointing a senior executive from the Swiss engineering giant ABB to the post.


Peter Voser, chief financial officer at ABB, will take up his job at Shell in October and will also join the oil company's committee of managing directors - in effect its executive board. Mr Voser, 45, spent 20 years with Shell, leaving in 2002 after he was beaten to the job of finance director by Judy Boynton who was brought in from the US film and camera company Polaroid. Mr Voser is now replacing Ms Boynton who was forced to step down two months ago because of the lax internal controls within Shell, which resulted in it overstating its proven oil and gas reserves by 4.5 billion barrels or 25 per cent.


A Swiss national, Mr Voser is credited with helping engineer the financial restructuring of the ailing conglomerate ABB and overseeing the $5bn sale of a large number of its non-core businesses. He was seen in some quarters as a possible chief executive for the group.


Mr Voser is expected to be paid a salary of about 800,000 when he joins Shell in October. His appointment also fills the one remaining vacancy on Shell's committee of managing directors. The committee will then consist of five directors. Apart from Mr Voser, they are Jeroen van der Veer, who replaced Sir Philip Watts as chairman in March, Malcolm Brinded who leads the exploration and production division, Rob Routs head of chemicals, and Linda Cook the former head of Shell's Canadian operation who is joining the board as managing director in charge of gas and power.


A Shell spokesman said that it had looked at 20 candidates for the finance director's job, most of them external. Tim Morrison, who was filling in as acting finance director following Ms Boynton's departure will return to his job as group financial controller. Mr Morrison was a candidate for the post but Shell declined to comment on the likelihood of him staying having been passed over.


The appointment of Mr Voser comes four days before Shell's annual shareholder meeting at which it will face investor demands to speed up the overhaul of its much-criticised dual board structure.

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