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FTSE 100: Shell shares rise despite reports of CEO Ben van Beurden stepping down

Shell chief executive office Ben van Beurden. Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Shell chief executive office Ben van Beurden. Photo: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Shares in energy giant Shell (SHEL.L) rose in early trade on Friday despite reports that CEO Ben van Beurden is preparing to step down.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) oil company rose to the top of the bluechip index, climbing as much as 1.9%. Rival BP (BP.L) jumped 2.4% amid rising oil prices.

Shell has shortlisted four candidates to succeed the 64-year-old Dutchman, who is planning to step down next year after nearly a decade in the top job, Reuters reported on Friday

Van Beurden, who joined the oil firm in 1983 and took the helm in January 2014, has yet to decide on an exact departure date but is expected to leave sometime in 2023, Reuters said.

The CEO's exit comes at a critical time for Shell, which has pulled in record profits from the energy crisis sparked by the Ukraine war.

During his tenure, van Beurden moved the company's headquarters from London to the Netherlands earlier this year, and dropped "Royal Dutch" from Shell's name.

He also oversaw the $53bn (£46bn) acquisition of rival BG Group in 2016, steered Shell through two major downturns and led the move to start cutting carbon emissions.

Shell declined to comment.

Read more: FTSE 100 Shell reveals record profit and launches $6bn share buyback scheme

The company's board succession committee, led by chairman Andrew Mackenzie, is said to have met several times to draw up a list of potential candidates to succeed the Dutch boss.

The shortlisted candidates are thought to all be internal and the current heads of major Shell divisions, including Wael Sawan, the firm's head of integrated gas and renewables, Huibert Vigeveno, the head of downstream refining operations, according to Reuters. The shortlist also includes chief financial officer Sinead Gorman and head of upstream Zoe Yujnovich.

It comes as oil prices jumped on Friday amid bets that Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) could slash output at a meeting on 5 September.

Despite that, fears of China's COVID-19 lockdowns and weak global growth continued to limit gains and a potential cap on the price of Russian exports looms.

Global benchmark brent crude (BZ=F) rose 2.8% to $94.95 a barrel, while US light crude (CL=F) gained 2.8% to $89.06 at the time of writing.

Watch: Why are gas prices rising?