The appointment of Sam Laidlaw as chief executive of Centrica , by-passing two hotly tipped internal candidate, signals that the owner of British Gas expect to be involved in the energy industry’s current enormous consolidation.
With speculation that Russia’s Gazprom is said to be mulling a bid and the $72 billion merger between Franco-Belgian energy group Suez and Gaz de France, observers believe Laidlaw has been chosen because of his experience in big deals – just 50 he is best known for revitalizing and later selling out Enterprise Oil to Shell in 2002 for £3.5bn before becoming president of America’s Amerada Hess.
He joins Centrica from oil giant Chevron where he was executive vice president of global business development.
His appointment sees the company overlook finance director Phil Bentley, who was an original frontrunner, and Mark Clare, deputy chief executive and managing director of British Gas, who was also considered, to replace out-going chief executive Sir Roy Gardner who is expected to become chairman of catering group Compass.
Laidlaw received a master’s degree from Cambridge University, was admitted to practice law as a solicitor in 1979 and obtained a master’s degree in business administration from the European business school INSEAD in 1981.
He has been active in various industry and civic organizations, including serving as president of the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association, chairman of the Petroleum Science and Technology Institute, and a member of the United Kingdom Energy Advisory Panel. He is a member of the United Kingdom Council of INSEAD; a non xecutive director of Hanson PLC; and a trustee of RAFT, a medical charity. Laidlaw also serves as a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a director of the Business Council for International Understanding.
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