Directors of oil giant BP are understood to have identified Paul Anderson, a US mining and energy executive, as the leading candidate for the role of chairman.
But at least one other person remains in the frame to succeed Peter Sutherland, who has served as chairman since 1997, a report said yesterday. It is thought that an announcement could be made before the end of the month, ending a two-year hunt to fill one of the UK’s most prestigious corporate jobs.
Mr Anderson has extensive background in natural resources and energy, having worked for more than 20 years at Duke Energy and its predecessors.
He is on the board of mining giant BHP Billiton, where he served as chief executive and managing director in the year following its creation from the merger of BHP and Billiton in June 2001.
Mr Anderson’s appointment would satisfy institutional investors who have urged BP to recruit a chairman with a detailed understanding of the current challenges facing the industry.
Key issues for the chairman include expanding presence in emerging markets such as China and India, where state-backed energy companies have been reluctant to allow global firms to build dominant positions. There has also been unrest over executive pay, with nearly 40% of shareholders voting against BP’s remuneration report at this year’s annual meeting.
Mr Sutherland’s departure was expected last year but was delayed by a decision not to continue its pursuit of the initial favourite – thought to be former Rio Tinto chairman Paul Skinner.