Exxon says CEO Tillerson to hand over reins to President Woods

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Oil major Exxon Mobil Corp said on Wednesday that President Darren Woods would become chief executive and chairman in January after the retirement of Rex Tillerson, who is U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state.

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Exxon said Tillerson, 64, will retire at the end of the year and Woods, 51, would take over as chairman and CEO, effective Jan. 1.

Woods joined Exxon in 1992, and in January he was elected to the company's board and appointed president.

Woods has held various senior positions at the company, including overseeing its refining, supply and transportation businesses and managing its specialty-chemical unit.

Tillerson got his start as a production engineer at Exxon in 1975 and has worked there ever since, running business units in Yemen, Thailand and Russia before landing the top job in 2006.

He was expected to retire next year, when he turned 65, the company's mandatory retirement age for its CEO.

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The retirement date had been advanced due to "the significant requirements associated with the confirmation process," Exxon said.

With his retirement, Exxon's board will have 12 directors.

The announcement of Exxon's change of leadership comes a day after Trump formally named Tillerson as his nomination to serve as secretary of state, citing his "tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics."

He could face a rocky confirmation process, given concerns among both Democrats and Republicans about his ties to Russia.

If Tillerson can overcome the skepticism of Republicans, he could win confirmation since their party will control a slim majority in the Senate when Trump takes office on Jan. 20.

Tillerson earned about $24.3 million in 2016. He has a net worth of $150 million, plus a $70 million pension plan.

Exxon's shares were down about 1.7 percent at $91, in line with the broader energy sector, which fell due to lower crude oil prices.

(Reporting by Swetha Gopinath in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)