Exxon Mobil Names Heir Apparent for CEO
By DAVID KOENIG
The Associated Press
Friday, February 27, 2004; 5:47 PM
IRVING, Texas - The race to replace Lee R. Raymond at the helm of Exxon Mobil Corp. may be over.
Analysts say the decision this week to promote a longtime company executive with experience in Russia signals that the oil giant has found an eventual successor to its strong-willed chairman and chief executive.
Exxon Mobil's board elevated senior vice president Rex W. Tillerson, 51, to the vacant position of president, ranking just below the 65-year-old Raymond.
Raymond has led the world's largest publicly traded oil company since 1993 and engineered Exxon's purchase of Mobil. He was scheduled to retire in August 2003, but in 2001 the board asked him to stay on indefinitely and groom a successor.
The company - which earned a record $21.51 billion last year on $246.74 billion in revenue - says no date has been set for Raymond to step down.
Until Thursday night's announcement of his promotion, Tillerson was seen as one of two leading candidates to succeed Raymond, with the other being Edward G. Galante, 53, who oversees the company's refining and marketing business.
Both men were promoted to senior vice president on the same day in 2001.
Analysts said they sensed that Tillerson would get the nod after he represented the company during a major investment conference in January in New York and at an energy-industry gathering this month in Houston.
"He seemed to have more of a public face than Galante in recent months," said Lysle Brinker, an analyst who follows Exxon Mobil for research and consulting firm John S. Herold Inc. "I don't know why they don't just give him the whole job now."
Tillerson's experience lies in the "upstream" business - energy exploration and production - which is less familiar to the public than the "downstream" business of refining and selling petroleum products but still provides the bulk of Exxon Mobil's earnings.
© 2004 The Associated Press