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People and Business: Shell change

ROYAL DUTCH/SHELL seems to have relaxed the tightening grip it was recently exerting on its operations around the world with a key job change yesterday.

Steve Miller, currently a group managing director, is succeeding Mark Moody-Stuart as chairman of the Shell Oil board of directors. Mr Miller, an American, is also succeeding Jack E Little as chief executive officer of Shell Oil Company, the group's US business.

At Shell's last results announcement Mr Moody-Stuart promised he would leave the company if the group's disappointing slide in profits was not reversed.

However, the oil giant insisted yesterday that Mr Miller's appointment was not a judgement on Mr Moody-Stuart, who is based in Europe, merely a recognition that the massive US market needs its own high-powered boss on the spot. Mr Miller, 53, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and joined Shell Oil in 1966 in Houston - where he is now returning with his new title.