Zurich, Switzerland | – Swiss engineering conglomerate ABB has named former Royal Dutch Shell boss Peter Voser as its new chairman, a homecoming for a man who was previously finance chief at the company.
Voser, a Swiss national, had been seen as a possible candidate to become chairman at Basel-based drugmaker Roche , where he is a board member. At ABB, Voser will succeed Hubertus von Gruenberg, 72, who has decided not to stand for re-election at its annual shareholder meeting next year.
Voser was finance director at ABB from 2002-2004 and served as chief executive at Shell from 2009 to 2013. He led the oil company from a position as a laggard in the wake of the 2004 reserves crisis to sector leader in the growing liquefied natural gas industry.
ABB serves companies in sectors including oil and gas. Despite a bigger-than-expected rise in third-quarter orders, a bleaker global growth outlook is keeping the Swiss engineer cautious about its prospects. Vontobel analyst Panagiotis Spiliopoulos, who has a ‘buy’ rating on the stock, said Voser’s appointment was a “smart move”, which will make for an easy transition from von Gruenberg, who has been chairman since 2007.
Shares in ABB, which makes products such as industrial robots and power grid transformers, were up 2.4 percent at 1100 GMT, outperforming a 2.2 percent rise in the European industrial goods and services index. “I am honoured to be nominated as chairman of the board and look forward to working with ABB’s CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer, his executive team and the board of directors,” Voser said in a statement.
CEO Spiesshofer has been in the top job at ABB for 15 months. Voser is also on IBM’s board, and was part of UBS’s when the Swiss bank was shored up by the Swiss government in 2008.