BP appoints Ericsson's Svanberg as chair

June 25, 2009 at 9:44 AM
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LONDON, June 25 (UPI) -- BP announced Thursday its choice of Carl-Henric Svanberg of Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson as its next board chairman, replacing Peter Sutherland.

"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," said BP chief executive Tony Hayward. "But I am sure Carl-Henric will be a worthy successor."

Sutherland, who served as the chairman at BP since 1997, was set to step down in 2008, though that move was delayed amid a dispute over an early favorite, Paul Skinner.

Skinner, the former chairman of the mining group Rio Tinto, was tapped as the successor, but shareholders opposed the appointment over his support for a deal with China's Chinalco.

Rio Tinto scrapped the Chinalco deal in early June in favor of a $116 billion deal with BHP Billiton.

Hayward said the choice of Svanberg reflects the common strategy in the global market between BP and Ericsson.

"Our shared views on many aspects of global business give me great confidence that we will work very effectively together on the next phase of BP's progress," he said.

For his part, Svanberg expressed exuberance over the appointment, saying he was "hugely excited" about joining the energy sector as BP's next chairman.

Sutherland and other BP members directed the search. Svanberg takes the helm Jan. 1.

Svanberg will have to manage investor relations and market expansions into India and China, where nationalized energy companies are hesitant to embrace supermajors.

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