Suncor Energy taps ex-Imperial boss Rich Kruger to lead company

Kruger previously worked for Exxon Mobil, leading Imperial Oil from 2013 to 2019 before retiring

Suncor Energy facility is seen in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Candace Elliott
Suncor Energy facility is seen in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Candace Elliott

Suncor Energy (SU.TO)(SU) has named Rich Kruger, a veteran oil and gas executive who previously led Imperial Oil (IMO.TO)(IMO), as its new president and chief executive officer.

The Calgary-based company says Kruger will assume the role and join Suncor's board of directors on April 3.

Suncor also announced that longtime chief financial officer Alister Cowan is set to retire by the end of 2023. Kris Smith, the 22-year Suncor veteran who ran the company on an interim basis following Mark Little's resignation in July, will replace Cowan as CFO.

"I am very excited and energized about the opportunity to lead Suncor into the next chapter," Kruger stated in a news release on Tuesday.

Suncor has faced a litany of challenges in recent years, most notably a public clash with a U.S. activist investor over its workplace safety record and lacklustre financial performance against peers as oil prices climbed following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

At least a dozen workers have died at the company's oilsands operations in northern Alberta since 2014. Suncor has been on the hunt for a new leader since the incidents prompted Little to leave the top job last summer.

Kruger previously worked for U.S. oil giant Exxon Mobil (XOM) for 39 years, leading majority-owned Imperial Oil from 2013 to 2019 before retiring.

"Rich is a highly capable and seasoned CEO with an impressive track record of leading a safety culture," Suncor's board chair Mike Wilson stated in the news release.

Scotiabank Global Equity Research analyst Jason Bouvier called the appointment a "modest positive", in a note to clients on Tuesday.

"We view these changes as positive as it will provide those in the market that wanted a change in leadership with an actionable event," he wrote.

"We continue to believe the largest driving force for SU to outperform will be several quarters of strong operational and safety performance."

Toronto-listed Suncor shares are trading at $45.80 as at 11:25 a.m. ET on Tuesday, up 2.7 per cent.

More to follow.

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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