* CFO and COO had also been in running for job
* Shares down 1.0 percent
By Rosalba O‘Brien
LONDON, Dec 13 (Reuters) - BG has named Chris Finlayson as chief executive, ending a year-long search for someone to keep a grip on costs while delivering huge growth projects the British oil and gas group has signed up for.
Finlayson, who joined BG from Royal Dutch Shell in 2010, was on a shortlist that included chief financial officer Fabio Barbosa and chief operating officer Martin Houston.
He will oversee large projects in Australia and Brazil that need to be brought on-stream. As with other oil majors, BG has been struggling with burgeoning costs and may have to sell stakes to fund the development.
Finlayson, 56, will take over on Jan. 1 from Frank Chapman, 12 years at the helm and who retires from BG in June. Under Chapman, BG has grown from a North Sea producer to an outperforming top-20 global oil and gas group.
Finlayson, seen as having the right background for the dealmaking that is important to BG’s culture, is managing director for BG Advance which looks after capital projects, field development and other technical areas.
Previously, he was managing director for Europe and central Asia. At Shell, he held leadership roles in Nigeria, Russia, Britain and Brunei.
BG put a succession plan in place last year, saying Finlayson, Barbosa and Houston were on a shortlist that could include external candidates.
All were given additional duties to test their suitability.
Barbosa, whose background in Brazil’s finance ministry and at Vale would have been an asset given BG’s local exposure, has been on a medical leave of absence.
In October, BG said project delays in Brazil and the North and a scaling back of U.S. shale activities meant there would be no output growth in 2013.
It agreed to sell a 40 percent stake in its Queensland Curtis LNG project to China in October and analysts say more stake sales may be needed to fund development.
BG, which announces full-year results in February, said it would delay the strategy presentation that usually coincides with the results as a consequence of the transition.
Finlayson will unlikely take radical steps early in 2013, Oriel Securities analysts said. “His initial priorities are likely to be the completion of the Queensland Curtis LNG project in Australia to meet the 2014 start-up date and get Brazil back on track, both of which are central to the BG growth story.”
Finlayson’s track record in large-scale LNG projects, managing North Sea assets and dealing with tough governments meant the appointment made a lot of sense, said Bernstein’s Oswald Clint.
BG shares were down 1.0 percent to 1,054 pence by 1015 GMT, compared with a 0.3 percent lower FTSE 100 index.