Shell appoints Wael Sawan as chief executive

(Reuters) – Shell has chosen Wael Sawan, the head of its gas and renewable energy division, to replace Ben van Beurden as managing director from next January 1, the oil group announced on Thursday.

The appointment comes at a critical time for the energy giant, which aims to reduce its emissions to net zero by 2050 and move away from fossil fuels, even as Europe returns to traditional energy to deal with the energy crisis.

48-year-old Lebanese-Canadian Wael Sawan was first in line to replace Ben van Beurden, who will step down at the end of the year after nearly a decade at the helm of the company. .

Ben van Beurden notably spearheaded Shell’s biggest acquisition in decades and managed the company through two difficult periods. It was also under his leadership that the company turned to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

Wael Sawan was once the head of Shell’s oil and gas production business. He now leads the company’s growth in low carbon energy, as well as its integrated gas business.

Credit analysts Swiss said Wael Sawan was well known to investors and they expected his appointment to have limited impact on Shell’s strategy. Credit Suisse Asset Management is one of Shell’s five largest shareholders.

“(It) will probably be more a continuation of the strategy put in place by van Beurden than a revolution”, analyzes RBC Capital.

DIVIDENDS AND RENEWABLES

After the pandemic and the collapse in energy demand in early 2020, Shell, under the leadership of Ben van Beurden, cut its dividend, the largest in the world at the time, for the first time since World War II. .

In July, however, the company posted record results, with a profit of $11.5 billion in the second quarter.

“Investors will be looking first and foremost, and in that order, for assurances on dividend safety and renewables strategy,” said Sophie Lund-Yates, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

(Reporting Yadarisa Shabong, Pushkala Aripaka, Muhammed Husain in Bangalore and Shadia Nasralla in London; French version Valentine Baldassari, editing by Kate Entringer)

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