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March 23 (Reuters) – Neste (NESTE.HE)has appointed Executive Vice President Matti Lehmus as chief executive officer, the Finnish refiner said on Wednesday.

Lehmus, who has been with the company since 1998, will replace CEO Peter Vanacker who resigned in December and is due to step down by the end of April. read more

Lehmus takes over at a time when the company is accelerating its renewables push with a joint venture with Marathon (MPC.N) to make renewable diesel in California. read more

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“The choice is supported by his long history at Neste and the experience of recent years in the Renewable Products business, around which Neste’s growth strategy is built,” Inderes analyst Petri Gostowski wrote in a note regarding Lehmus’s appointment.

He saw the appointment of a company insider as positive, saying it enables a smooth transition.

Under Vanacker’s leadership, which started in November 2018, Neste has been looking at building a biofuels refinery in the Dutch port of Rotterdam but has yet to make a final investment decision.

Analysts saw his resignation as “surprising”, saying Vanacker had succeeded in the implementation of the company’s strategy.

Neste did not provide a reason for Vanacker’s resignation in December.

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Reporting by Boleslaw Lasocki; editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Jason Neely

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.