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Occidental says CEO will stay through 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Occidental Petroleum Corp. said Monday that CEO Steve Chazen will stay through next year, after saying in February that it would begin looking for a successor.

It was the third statement from Occidental in three months, as it tries to sort out who will run the company next.

Longtime chairman and former CEO Ray Irani is set to step down at the end of next year, and in February the company said it would begin looking for Chazen's replacement. As recently as April 8, a company statement said its independent directors had decided that "now is the time to seek new leadership to be in place for the longer term."

Now the company says Chazen, 66, will stay through 2014, and will work with the board in its ongoing efforts to find a new CEO. The board said its move "reflects the extensive feedback the Company has received from shareholders," who also wanted other corporate governance and executive pay changes.

The company also announced several board and compensation changes:

— Future CEOs will have a mandatory retirement age of 68.

— Board policy will be for an independent director to be chairman.

— Independent directors will continue to meet without management present at least once during every board meeting.

— Annual stock grants to non-employee directors will be cut by at least 20 percent, and director pay "will be reviewed this year to bring director compensation levels in line with peers."

— Several changes to CEO pay are designed to tie pay more closely to performance.

Spencer Abraham, who is chairman of the board committee that sets CEO pay, was quoted by the company as saying "Occidental is committed to revising its executive compensation program to reflect shareholder feedback" and to ensure that its pay is similar to peers and is tied to performance.

Occidental shares rose 78 cents to $87.44 in morning trading.