BP appoints new chairman - at last

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The Independent Online

BP's two-year hunt to fill one of Britain's most prestigious corporate jobs ended today with the appointment of Carl-Henric Svanberg as chairman.

Mr Svanberg, who is currently chief executive of the Swedish telecoms company Ericsson, will take over from Peter Sutherland in January.

Mr Sutherland's departure was expected last year but was delayed by the decision not to proceed with the appointment of the initial favourite.

BP chief executive Tony Hayward described Mr Svanberg as a businessman of international stature and a worthy successor to Mr Sutherland, who has served as BP's chairman since 1997.

Mr Svanberg will join BP after a seven-year tenure as Ericsson's chief executive and as chairman of its joint venture Sony Ericsson.

He will be based in London and will devote the majority of his time to BP business.

The 57-year-old said he was "hugely excited" about joining the energy industry. He added: "BP is a recognised world leader in the energy sector and it's a great privilege to be invited to lead its board."

Paul Anderson, an American mining and energy executive, had been seen as one of the frontrunners for the role of chairman. He is currently on the board of mining giant BHP Billiton and worked for two decades at Duke Energy.

Mr Svanberg joins BP at a challenging time after almost 40% of its shareholders voted against the company's remuneration report at this year's annual meeting.

Other tasks facing the new chairman include expanding the company's 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.

Mr Hayward added: "He is a businessman of international stature who is recognised for his transformation of Ericsson. Our shared views on many aspects of global business give me great confidence that we will work effectively together on the next phase of BP's progress."