Future unclear for ex-Statoil boss

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Helge Lund, who headed Norway’s largest company Statoil for more than 10 years, claims he has no idea what he’ll do now that he’s effectively lost his brand-new job as chief executive officer of BG Group in the UK. News this week that BG, the former British Gas, is being bought up by huge Dutch oil company Shell made Lund redundant, just weeks after he took over his new job.

PHOTO: Statoil

Helge Lund’s tenure as new CEO of BG Group turned out to be exceptionally short. The former Statoil boss claims he has no idea what he’ll do when he leaves the company after it’s taken over by Shell. PHOTO: Statoil

Lund, who quit his top job at Statoil last fall and moved from Norway to London to take over as CEO of BG Group, told the British newspaper Financial Times (FT) that he hasn’t had time to think about his own future yet. He’s expected, however, to leave the company when the acquisition of BG Group is completed, probably around a year from now.

Lund admitted that he has mixed feelings about Shell’s deal to buy up BG Group, telling the FT that he’d been looking forward to lead BG Group himself. His move from Statoil to the big British energy firm was seen as a major career step for Lund, who arguably had already “topped out” in Norway after leading the country’s biggest and most important oil company.

The deal between Shell and BG Group shows just how uncertain and brutal business can be, even (and perhaps especially) for those at the highest levels. After receiving the top job offer from BG Group just a few months ago, and a compensation package that was so large it later had to be trimmed because of public criticism, Lund appeared to be summarily cast aside when Shell entered the picture. He didn’t even attend this week’s press conference on the Shell-BG merger, which instead was fronted by the chairmen of both firm’s and Shell’s CEO.

Lund is unlikely to suffer financially though, with severance pay agreements and earlier pension pacts that could secure him for the rest of his life. Men like Lund, though, are unlikely to be content with unemployment or forced early retirement.

Speculation was thus flying that Lund would either quickly find a new top job abroad or even back in Norway, although any CEO post in his homeland would likely be a lateral move at best at much lower pay. He may end up taking on various board posts or launch his own consulting firm, like other chief executives have done when they suddenly lose their jobs or retire.

Lund told the FT there was no truth behind rumours that he may take on a government ministerial post in Norway. He claimed he had no idea how much money he’ll get from BG Group when he leaves, telling the FT that the amount won’t be determined until BG’s acquisition is completed and he’s cleared for departure.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund