Exxon Mobil names Woods chairman, CEO to replace Tillerson

Markets Associated Press

FILE - This Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016, file photo shows Exxon Mobil's Billings Refinery in Billings, Mont. Exxon Mobil promotes longtime insider Darren Woods to replace Rex Tillerson as CEO. The vacancy was created when President-elect Donald Trump ... announced he will nominate Tillerson to become secretary of state. Analysts expect that change in the top office won’t alter Exxon’s strategy or operations. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File) (The Associated Press)

Exxon Mobil on Wednesday named Darren Woods as successor to CEO Rex Tillerson, who is leaving the oil giant after being named the next secretary of state.

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Tillerson led the company through one of the most turbulent decades in its history. Woods, 51, is also an insider and has been with Exxon for almost a quarter century.

Because of Exxon Mobil Corp.'s mandatory retirement age of 65, Tillerson's exit was planned for the spring. A year ago, Woods was named president, putting him in line for the top job.

Few expect significant changes in leadership style at Exxon under Woods. Because of the company's vast scale, strategic decisions are made with a comparatively long time frame in view.

Analysts expect Woods to pursue the same business approach as Tillerson and his predecessor, Lee Raymond. The Irving, Texas-based company is known for taking a cautious, methodical approach to new projects. Changes in direction usually happen slowly.

Woods "has been groomed for a couple years to be the replacement," said Stewart Glickman, an analyst for CFRA Research. "He is a 24-year (Exxon) veteran, and I think he probably understands the culture pretty well. I don't think there is much of a hitch for Exxon."

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Picking a successor to Tillerson went more smoothly than replacing Raymond, who stayed on the job more than two years past the company's retirement age.