BP has appointed a new chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, chief executive of Ericsson, the telecoms equipment marketer, Times Newspapers LTD reported.
Britain’s biggest company has spent the last year searching for a replacement for Peter Sutherland, the current chairman.
Now, Svanberg, 57 will fill Sutherland’s shoes beginning Jan. 1. He is an outsider to the oil industry and relatively unknown in the City of London investment fraternity, Times Newspapers LTD reported. Some skeptical analysts have questioned Svanberg’s ability to act as global ambassador for one of the world’s top energy companies.
Among his tasks will be completing job cuts and internal restructuring, a project initiated two years ago by Tony Hayward, the company’s current chief executive in an attempt to streamline the company.
Svanberg has experience in this area, having taken part in a restructuring at Ericsson where the workforce was reduced by half. He will also have to deal with the continuing dispute with the company’s Russian partners regarding ownership of the TNK-BP joint venture.
Svanberg’s predecessor, Sutherland, had been plagued by a boardroom power struggle with Lord Browne of Madingley, the former chief executive, who refused to retire, but finally quit following disclosures concerning his private life. Sutherland has been forced to delay his planned retirement as the search for his replacement was set back by false starts and the recession. Sutherland, 63, will end his reign as BP’s longest-serving Chairman in December, having taken the position in May 1997.
“Peter Sutherland has been an outstanding chairman, guiding the company through one of the most successful periods in its history. He will be a hard act to follow but I am sure (Svanberg) will be a worthy successor,” Hayward was quoted as saying.
Svanberg will help settle the debate over the future of BP’s alternative energy business, which has been uncertain since the departure of Lord Browne. He will remain a non-executive director of Ericsson.