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Gulf Keystone appoints Simon Murray as chairman

Simon Murray©AFP

Oil company Gulf Keystone has named Simon Murray, theformer French Foreign legionnaire who chaired Glencore in the run-up to itsmerger with Xstrata, as its new chairman.

The appointment is an attempt by Todd Kozel,outgoing executive chairman, to draw the sting from a threatened shareholder rebellion over corporategovernance and remuneration policy at the Aim-quoted company.

Mr Kozel told the Financial Times that Mr Murraywas an “incredible” businessman who brought a “wealth of knowledge from hisbusiness experience in Asia” and his stint as chairman of commodities traderGlencore.

Mr Murray, 73, is one of Britain’s mostcolourful businessmen. He has the reputation of an adventurer, becoming theoldest man to have walked unsupported to the South Pole in 2004, and running242km across the Moroccan desert at the age of 60.

He is also known for his occasionallycontroversial views. He was accused of misogyny after an interview in 2011 whenhe expressed scepticism about hiring women because “pregnant ladies have ninemonths off”. He later said his words had been taken out of context.

As a young man, Mr Murray spent five years withthe French Foreign Legion. He then moved to the Far East, spending 14 years at Jardine Matheson in Hong Kong where he rose tohead the group’s engineering business.

He went on to become group managing director ofconglomerate Hutchison Whampoa and in 1994 was appointedAsia Pacific chairman of Deutsche Bank. He later established his owninvestment group, GEMS.

His appointment as chairman of Gulf Keystonecould help steadyshareholder nerves jarred by controversies about executive pay atthe company. Mr Kozel received a pay and bonus package of more than £10m for2012, making him one of the UK’s best-paid chief executives.

That is believed to be one of the factors thatprompted investors led by M&G, the fund management arm of Prudential, toseek changes to the board. M&G, which owns about 5.7 per cent of GulfKeystone, is proposing the election of four new non-executive directors at thecompany’s annual meeting in Bermuda on July 25.

SOURCE. Finance Times
UPDATE. 2013-07-03
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