* Having been CFO for decade, Chazen became CEO in mid-2011
* Chairman Irani stepping down at end of 2014
* Shares down in past year, dividend raised 18.5 pct
By Braden Reddall
Feb 14 Occidental Petroleum Corp has
started looking for someone to replace Chief Executive Stephen
Chazen, the fourth-largest U.S. oil company said on Thursday,
after the 66-year-old spent less than two years in the top job.
"Succession planning and best corporate governance practices
have been a high priority for the Board over the past number of
years," said Margaret Foran, an Occidental director since late
2010. "We look forward to a thoughtful and smooth process that
will yield the best result for Oxy and all of its
A wise-cracking former Merrill Lynch banker, Chazen joined
Occidental in 1994 and took over as CEO in mid-2011 after
serving as chief financial officer for more than a decade.
With executive chairman and ex-CEO Ray Irani due to retire
at the end of 2014, a Chazen departure would mark the end of an
era for the Los Angeles-based company. Both executives found
themselves targeted over their high compensation, until a
shareholder effort to take board seats sparked reform in 2010.
Chazen ended up earning compensation worth $31.7 million in
2011, down from $38.1 million the year before, while Irani made
$49.8 million in 2011, down from $76.1 million. The disclosures
for 2012 have not yet been made.
Chazen is only Occidental's third CEO in half a century.
Irani had been named CEO in 1990 by Armand Hammer, a flamboyant
tycoon who spent three decades building the company from a small
firm of just three employees.
Shares of Occidental have fallen 15 percent in the past
year, compared with a 10 percent rise for California rival
Chevron Corp and 6 percent for giant Exxon Mobil Corp
A sweeping cost-cutting effort by Chazen over the past
quarter helped the company report a fourth-quarter profit well
ahead of analysts' estimates last month.
Earlier on Thursday, Occidental had announced an 18.5
percent increase in its annual dividend to $2.56 per share, for
a compound annual dividend growth rate of 16 percent since 2002.