Engie has appointed catherine macgregor as its new chief executive, making her the only female boss in frances cac 40 benchmark stock index after the energy group ousted her predecessor in february.
The 48-year-old ms macgregor currently runs technip energies, an arm of oil services group technipfmc, after spending 23 years at schlumberger, the worlds biggest oilfield services company.
She beat other candidates, including gwenalle avice-huet who runs engies renewables business; laurent guillot, the deputy ceo of saint-gobain; and catherine guillouard, who is in charge of parisian transport company ratp.
Ms macgregor, an engineer by training who was born and raised in morocco, will start in the ceo job on 1 january 2021, taking over a company that has been roiled over the past few years by a radical strategy shift and boardroom fights and which is planning another raft of asset sales.
She must also deal with engies largest shareholder, the french state, which holds 23.6 per cent of its capital and 34.3 per cent of its voting rights.
Engies previous ceo, isabelle kocher, was pushed out eight months ago after trying to turn around the former state-owned gas monopoly and place it at the vanguard of the green energy revolution.
Ms kocher, who had taken over engie in 2016, oversaw the sale of many of its fossil fuel-related activities, such as oil and gas exploration, with the proceeds ploughed into areas such as renewable power and energy efficiency services.
But despite the plan to overhaul the 60bn-turnover business, investors remained unsure about engie and its share price has struggled. it is down 20 per cent so far this year.
Chairman jean-pierre clamadieu launched a new strategy after ms kocher left, one which saw him announce in july thatthe group would review its non-core assets, including its 32 per cent stake in french water and waste group suez.
According to analysts at kepler chevreux, those stakes could be valued at more than 12bn, allowing engie to reinforce its positioning on key competencies such as gas networks, while accelerating its renewables development.
Ms macgregor is to continue that strategy, as well as the push into renewables and networks.
Mr clamadieu had hoped to have a new ceo in place by september but his plans were disrupted by french water and waste group veolias 3.4bn bid for the majority of engies stake in suez.
Engie is close to accepting veolias recently improved offer for 29.9 per cent of suez, saying earlier this week that it welcomed the bid and would make its decision by monday.
However, the sale has become highly charged and political, with the ceo of suez calling veolias offer to be followed by a tender for the rest of the company particularly hostile.
Engie hopes that taking a few more days before accepting the offer, suez and veolia can find some common ground and undo some of the aggression that has marked this deal. all sides met on thursday evening, say people familiar with the matter.