As the finance director moves into the ascendant amid the certainty of a UK
recession in 2009, two high-profile FDs have been elevated to chief executive
roles at their respective companies.
Dutch Shell’s chief financial officer Peter Voser will succeed
Jeroen van der Veer as CEO when he retires next summer, while BT’s Hanif Lalani
has been appointed chief executive of the group’s Global Services division,
following the resignation of François Barrault.
Voser’s move on 1 July 2009 will see him bring to bear deep operational and
financial management experience across the world’s second-largest oil
exploration company, where he started his career 25 years ago, as it seeks to
expand in territories such as Iraq.
Prior to becoming group CFO in autumn 2004, the Swiss engineering graduate
ran divisional finance functions for Shell in Switzerland, the UK, Argentina and
Chile, moving back to London in 1997 to become group chief internal auditor. Two
years later he was made CFO of Shell Europe Oil Products and in 2001 expanded
his CFO role to cover global oil products.
The promotion is all the more satisfying for Voser given that it is widely
alleged he was initially passed over for the CFO role, which was given to Judy
Boynton and which led to his departure in 2002 to become CFO at Swiss
engineering icon ABB. Having led a successful financial restructuring at ABB,
Voser was coaxed back to the fold three years later to replace Boynton when she
was forced to walk following Shell’s oil and gas reserves mis-statement crisis.
Voser had been tipped earlier this year to join UBS, where he has been a
member of the board of directors since 2005 and led efforts to fix its battered
BT group CFO Hanif Lalani makes a sideways, but still potent move to become
CEO of its Global Services division, replaced as group CFO by Ray Leclercq, CFO
for the group’s Openreach business.
Not unlike Tesco group FD Andrew Higginson who moved to become CEO of the
supermarket group’s Retailing Services division and lead the charge into retail
banking, Lalani will look to boost profitability, margins and return on capital
for the group. It is the second time Lalani will serve as a CEO, having been
chief executive of BT Northern Ireland prior to becoming group FD.