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Equinor short-lists four insiders as potential CEO successor - source

Tue, 28th Jul 2020 15:01

* CEO Saetre expected to step down within months - source

* Four internal candidates short-listed

* Candidates asked to present thoughts on energy transition

By Nerijus Adomaitis and Dmitry Zhdannikov

OSLO/LONDON, July 28 (Reuters) - Equinor has
short-listed four internal candidates to succeed Chief Executive
Eldar Saetre who is likely to announce his departure within the
next few months, a source familiar with the process told
Reuters.

The candidates have been asked to present their views on how
to speed up the Norwegian oil and gas group's transformation
towards becoming a greener company while preserving
profitability, the source said.

The four internal candidates are chief financial officer
Lars Christian Bacher, head of midstream and marketing Irene
Rummelhoff, head of international development and production
Torgrim Reitan and head of technology, projects and drilling
Anders Opedal, the source said.

Norwegian business daily Dagens Naerlingsliv was first to
report on the four candidates last week. It said Equinor's board
could also consider external candidates.

"We do not want to comment on speculations or rumours about
when Eldar Saetre will step down as CEO or about possible
candidates to take over as CEO," Equinor's spokesman said.

Opedal declined to comment. Bacher was not immediately
reachable for comment. Reuters was not able to contact
Rummelhoff and Reitan for comment.

Saetre, 64, has led Equinor since 2014 when his predecessor
Helge Lund left to take the top job at BG Group, now part of
Royal Dutch Shell.

Saetre reached the retirement age of 62 in 2018, but the
company's board asked him to stay for up to five years.

Saetre changed the majority state-owned company's name from
Statoil to Equinor in 2018 and launched its transformation from
an oil and gas firm into a "broad energy" company, promising to
increase investments in renewables.

Saetre also had to deal with a wave of writedowns related to
acquisitions of onshore and offshore petroleum reserves in the
United States in the years before the 2014 oil price crash,
eventually leading to accumulated losses and write-offs of $20.4
billion dollars.

Of the four candidates, Bacher previously ran the company's
international division, which did not include Equinor's
operations in the United States.

Rummelhoff, the only female candidate, has run Equinor's
renewable business and is currently responsible for trading,
which had a strong performance in the second quarter, helping to
counter the impact of a slump in oil and gas prices.

Reitan was CFO until 2015, when he became head of the U.S.
division.

The fourth candidate, Opedal, has spent more than 20 years
at Equinor mostly in technical jobs and was in charge of Brazil,
where Equinor aims to grow rapidly in the next 5 years.
(Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis and Dmitry Zhdannikov;
additional reporting by Gwladys Fouche. Editing by Jane
Merriman)

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