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Tesoro May Pick ConocoPhillips SVP as New CEO

SAN ANTONIO -- Tesoro Corp., a refiner and convenience store operator based here, is expected to name ConocoPhillips Senior Vice President Gregory Goff to succeed Tesoro's retiring CEO, Bruce Smith, according to a report by BusinessWeek, citing two people familiar with the search.

"The process of selecting a successor for Bruce has been under way since Bruce announced his retirement last year," Lynn Westfall, Tesoro spokesman, told BusinessWeek. "The board is actively engaged in the search and will make the appropriate announcements when the selection has been finalized."

Tesoro's board sought a new chief who would keep the company intact and strive to make operations profitable, according to the two people with knowledge of the selection, one of which has seen documents connected to the selection, while the other is an industry executive with personal knowledge of the selection, the report stated. Both asked not to be named as the process was confidential.

Goff has been with ConocoPhillips and its predecessors since 1981, and in his time, has managed the company's refining and marketing activities in Europe and Asia Pacific. In his current post, Goff is responsible for the company's supply and trading, according to a biography on the ConocoPhillips Web site that was cited in the report. Goff and a ConocoPhillips spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment by BusinessWeek.

Tesoro extended Smith's contract in August 2009 until Dec. 31, 2011, for time to search for a successor. At the time, the company said Smith would continue to serve as non-executive chairman for up to one year after his successor was named, for an annual $1 fee, according to the report. Tesoro has searched more than seven months for a new CEO, considering both internal and external candidates. Smith has been with Tesoro since 1992.

Last week, Chief Operating Officer Bill Finnerty announced his retirement from the company, which indicated Tesoro had decided on an external successor, according to a note sent to clients by Ann Kohler, an analyst at Caris & Co. in New York, the report stated.

"We believe that the announcement of the appointment of new senior management, and hence a successor to TSO's Chairman, CEO and President Bruce Smith, is imminent and will be applauded by the Street, resulting in a higher valuation for the company's shares," Kohler said in the note last week. Kohler does not own any shares of Tesoro.

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