Suncor Energy names Exxon veteran Rich Kruger as CEO

FILE PHOTO: The Suncor Energy logo is seen at their head office in Calgary

(Reuters) -Canada's Suncor Energy Inc said on Tuesday former Exxon Mobil Corp executive Rich Kruger would take over as its chief executive from April 3, replacing interim boss Kris Smith, sending its shares up nearly 3% in afternoon trading.

Kruger, a near 40-year veteran of Exxon, served as CEO of Imperial Oil Ltd for six years before retiring in 2019.

"Investors are likely going to see this as a key reason to expect a complete positive change in the safety culture at SU," Eight Capital analysts said.

Smith replaced Mark Little as CEO in July following a worker death, which was the fifth fatality at the company since 2019.

The company named Smith as its finance chief in place of Alister Cowan, who plans to retire at the end of the year.

Activist investor Elliott Investment Management, which last year pushed for changes over company's operational and safety record, is also pleased that the board chose an external CEO candidate.

The hedge fund now looks forward to the new CEO's progress on creating a new culture at the company, one that focuses on improving safety, operational efficiency and overall better performance, a source familiar with Elliott's thinking told Reuters.

Elliott did not respond to an email seeking comment.

(Reporting by Arunima Kumar in Bengaluru and Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Arun Koyyur)