* Brufau names former politician Imaz
* Finance director, strategy still decided by Brufau
* Pemex voted against appointment
* Move may pave way for succession
(Adds background, quotes, Pemex vote)
By Carlos Ruano and Andrés González
MADRID, April 30 Spanish energy group Repsol
, under pressure from shareholders to improve corporate
governance, on Wednesday created a new role of chief executive
officer to take over day-to-day management duties from Chairman
Josu Jon Imaz, a well-known former politician from the
northern Basque region who joined Repsol in 2008, will become
Brufau, who has served as executive chairman of Repsol for
nearly a decade, will remain as chairman in a nonexecutive
capacity, Repsol said.
The group's finance director will continue to report to the
chairman, who will also remain in charge of strategy, according
to a chart published by the company.
The changes appear to leave open the possibility of an
ordered succession, although it may take place less quickly than
shareholder Pemex, a vocal critic of Brufau, would
The Mexican state oil firm has publicly locked horns with
Brufau over his handling of negotiations after the seizure of
YPF, a former unit of Repsol, by Argentina in 2012,
which ended in a $5 billion settlement.
"Following the financial compensation agreement with
Argentina, the company has the optimum structure to generate new
growth opportunities," Repsol said in a statement.
The new structure comes after pressure from Pemex, Repsol's
third-largest shareholder with a 9.3 percent stake, which has
expressed discontent with Brufau's leadership generally and has
asked on several occasions for a deputy to be named at the
A source close to Pemex said the oil company had voted
against the naming of Imaz.
Sacyr, another major shareholder in Repsol, has also clashed
with the 66-year-old chairman over strategy, although its
position recently appears to be more muted.
The YPF spat not only caused tension between the biggest
shareholders but also led to political negotiations between
Spain, Argentina and Mexico.
By naming Imaz, Brufau will be able to draw on his political
experience to resolve thorny cross-border issues.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will visit Spain in the
coming months, practically coinciding with Brufau's 10-year
anniversary leading Repsol.
Imaz, at Repsol since 2008, is a 50-year-old chemist who ran
its industrial division and up to now had been a member of the
management committee but not a board member.
Several foreign investors have demanded that Spain improve
corporate governance at listed companies as a condition for
Power in Spanish companies concentrated in the hands of
executive chairmen as the country slowly embraced stock market
culture in the 1980s and 1990s after a long dictatorship finally
ended in the 1970s.
Top companies such as Santander only named
executive officers and operating officers relatively recently,
but in spite of that strategy decisions have remained very
firmly in the hands of chairmen.
(Writing by Elisabeth O'Leary; Editing by Julien Toyer, Pravin
Char and Prudence Crowther)