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    Execs from Shell, BP and UST shaking up the ranks.

    The executive vice president of Royal Dutch Shell, Fran Keeth, joined Verizon's board of directors, effective Dec. 7. In joining, Keeth brings the board membership to 14.

    Keeth heads Shell's global chemicals business, but plans to retire from that position and the company by the end of this year. She joined Shell in 1970, and was promoted to positions with increasing responsibility. In 1992 she relocated to London to handle various assignments for Shell International Petroleum Co. as the deputy group controller, area coordinator for the Far East and financer manager for oil products.

    After a brief stint with Mobil Corp. in 1996 as the controller and principal accounting officer, she returned to Shell in 1997 as the executive vice president of finance and business systems for Shell Chemical LP. In 2001 Keeth was promoted to the global position of vice president of customer fulfillment and product business units for Shell Chemicals Ltd., in addition to the regional title of president and CEO of Shell Chemical LP.

    In early 2005 Keeth was appointed to the position of executive vice president of chemicals, while still holding the title of president and CEO of Shell Chemical LP. In July 2006, she resigned from the position to focus primarily on the company’s global accountabilities.

    "Fran Keeth has a strong background in both finance and operations, domestically and globally, and we look forward to the experience and insights she will bring to the Verizon board," said Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon's chairman and CEO.

    In other people news, The New York Times reported that BP is replacing the head of its Alaska operations in a management overhaul for some of the company's faulty North American operations. Doug Suttles will replace Steve Marshall, who has been in charge of the company's operations since 2001. Suttles currently runs the company's business in Russia's eastern island of Sakhalin.

    This change is due to the oil spill in the Prudhoe Bay area of Alaska that was caused by inadequate maintenance on its pipelines, the Times reported.

    Marshall will remain in the area and serve in the newly created position of vice president in charge of a training academy that focuses on operational issues, including safety. This move is the latest in a series of larger management moves by the company. In July, Robert Malone was appointed head of BP America. Malone told the Times that replacing Marshall was not a disciplinary action.

    In supplier news, the board of directors for UST Inc., the holding company for U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co., elected Murray S. Kessler to the position of CEO, effective Jan. 1.

    Kessler succeeds Vincent A. Gierer Jr., who will retire at the end of this year from the position, but will maintain as non-executive chairman of the UST board of directors.

    Kessler comes to the position from the role as the company's president and chief operating officer of UST, as well as a board member since November 2005. Before this, Kessler was the president of U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, and saw the overall category triple in growth. Kessler served as the senior vice president of sales and marketing before being promoted to the role of president.

    Prior to U.S. Smokeless in 2000, Kessler spent more than 18 years in the consumer packaged goods industry at companies including Campbell's Soup and Clorox. He had management responsibility for brands such as Swanson Frozen Foods, Pace, Prego and Franco-American.

    "Murray Kessler's proven leadership in his seven years at UST, including his focus on building long-term sustainable growth for the company, as well as his previous extensive consumer products experience, combine to make him the right person to lead this company forward," said Gierer. "He has been instrumental in driving growth for the smokeless tobacco category, innovation and for the implementation of our cost-cutting initiative, Project Momentum, which will help provide the resources necessary to enable us to become more competitive in an increasingly challenging external environment."

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