Statoil shakes up management with new CFO, U.S. chief

OSLO, May 12 — Norwegian oil firm Statoil replaced several top executives including its chief financial officer on Tuesday, continuing a shake-up since its chief executive was poached by rival BG Group last October.

State-controlled Statoil has lost four board members, including its chairman, over the past several months, and some top managers, including from its mergers and acquisitions unit and U.S. shale business, have left the firm.

With Tuesday's changes, the firm moved up several long-time employees, keeping with a tradition of elevating in-house talent and ensuring no sudden changes as all new executive have been with the firm for at least two decades.

The appointments, including a new U.S. chief, also indicate Statoil will keep a focus on its U.S. shale operations, despite big investment cutback and a massive writedown, analysts said.

Statoil appointed Hans Jacob Hegge as chief financial officer, moving Torgrim Reitan to head the firm's U.S. business, where the contract of the previous chief, Bill Maloney, was not renewed.

“Transferring CFO Torgrim Reitan to North America shows that they will not put less weight on their North America division and they might consider a different model of ownership,” Arctic Securities analyst Christian Yggeseth said.

Pure shale players in the U.S. tend to achieve higher valuations than integrated oil firms and analysts have said that separating the shale business into a new entity and spinning it off should be considered by the firm.

Statoil shares traded unchanged at 1030 GMT, outperforming the 0.8 percent fall in the European oil and gas index.

The wave of changes at Statoil began in February, when the firm appointed Eldar Saetre, a long-serving Statoil executive, as CEO, replacing Helge Lund who left for BG after a decade in the top job.

Saetre has pushed through efficiency changes, written down the value of poorly performing assets, particularly in the U.S. shale business, and improved relations with unions.

As part of Tuesday's changes, the firm also appointed Jens Oekland to head the marketing and processing unit, Saetre's old job, and picked Irene Rummelhoff to head a new division in low carbon and renewable energy.

Establishing a separate business area reflects its aspiration to gradually complement its oil and gas portfolio with renewable energy and other low-carbon energy assets, it said.

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