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Financial Times: Out of the shell: "...a recent spate of defections to a far smaller rival, BG Group, has raised eyebrows among some Shell-watchers": Shell has been hit hard in recent times by a reserves downgrade scandal and news that some of its newest projects are behind schedule and badly over budget. Uncharitable souls are saying that the departure of future Shell leaders could be a sign of worse things to come.: Friday 19 August 2005

 

By Clay Harris

Published: August 19 2005

 

A job at Royal Dutch Shell once meant a job for life. So a recent spate of defections to a far smaller rival, BG Group, has raised eyebrows among some Shell-watchers.

 

The latest Shell person to quit for BG is Iman Hill, who had been appointed Shell's country chairwoman in Egypt only 15 months ago. Hill, who is Saudi-born but went to school in Scotland, has been asked to stay on until a suitable replacement can be found - a somewhat surprising choice given that BG is a rival for Egyptian gas.

 

Mark Carne, another of Shell's rising stars, also left for BG in May. The 46-year-old Carne had been Shell's man in Brunei, a position generally seen within the company as a stepping-stone on the way to the top table.

 

Carne is now executive vice-president and managing director of north-west Europe at BG.

 

In November, Jørn Berget, a long-serving Shell man who had most recently worked as region production director for North and South America, also departed for BG.

 

The 52-year-old Norwegian is now executive vice- president for BG Advance, an initiative of BG Group.

 

Shell has been hit hard in recent times by a reserves downgrade scandal and news that some of its newest projects are behind schedule and badly over budget. Uncharitable souls are saying that the departure of future Shell leaders could be a sign of worse things to come.

 

There is one way Shell could recover its erstwhile employees - by buying BG.

 

That way they could also regain the services of Frank Chapman, BG's chief executive and another former Shell man.

 

The official line is that BG is too expensive for Shell to buy today.

 

At this rate, however, they may decide it's too expensive not to.

 

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