Jim Buckee, an astrophysicist who helped build Talisman Energy Inc. into Canada's third-largest explorer, will retire as CEO this fall. John Manzoni, who, like Buckee is a veteran of London-based BP plc, will take over Sept. 1.

Talisman began as a Canadian spin-off of BP in late 1992. Buckee was appointed president 16 years ago, and he has served as CEO for the past 14 years. In recent months, there have been rumors that Talisman might be for sale, but at least one analyst said the appointment of Manzoni discounts that possibility.

"Initial indications from [Talisman] are to expect no change in corporate strategy in the short term," UBS analyst Andrew Potter wrote in a research note. "We believe bringing in a high-quality replacement to Dr. Buckee also implies that a corporate sale or restructuring may not be likely in the short to medium term."

During Buckee's tenure, Talisman's production increased sixfold on a series of acquisitions that expanded the company's overseas operations into the North Sea and Southeast Asia, North Africa and Trinidad. It recently announced large oil and natural gas discoveries in Canada and Alaska.

Talisman Chairman Doug Baldwin said Buckee "led the transformation of Talisman from a BP subsidiary into a leading independent and international energy company. Under his direction, the company has developed an international business strategy that distinguishes it from its competitors, established operations or interests in more than a dozen countries and recorded a 10-fold increase in Talisman's production and share price."

Buckee said 14 years as CEO of Talisman "is a long time for me and for the company. Talisman and its prospects are in excellent shape and, after two years of 'transition,' we are looking forward to years of continuing growth."

Manzoni has been with BP since 1983, and he was considered one of CEO John Browne's top lieutenants. Browne stepped down as CEO in early May (see Daily GPI, May 2). Manzoni, who apparently was among those considered to replace Browne, most recently was CEO of BP's refining and marketing operations and was presiding over the refining operations when an explosion at BP's Texas City, TX, refinery killed 15 people in March 2005.

Baldwin said, "The depth and breadth of [Manzoni's] international strategic and operational experience, his proven focus on generating results and his leadership skills made him the board's unanimous choice to lead the company through the next stage of its development. His mandate will be to build upon the strength of our underlying assets, maximize the pursuit of our business strategies and generate additional growth and value."

Iain Conn, 44, succeeds Manzoni effective Thursday. Conn was appointed an executive director of BP in July 2004 with functional responsibility for safety and operations; technology, marketing, human resources, information technology, procurement and supply chain management. Manzoni will stay with BP for a three-month transition period.

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