Tony Hayward, who became the face of BP’s flailing efforts to contain the massive Gulf oil spill, will step down as chief executive in October and be offered a job with the company’s joint venture in Russia, a person familiar with the matter said today.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made by the British company’s board, which was meeting today in London to decide Hayward’s fate.
It’s not yet clear what Mr. Hayward’s role will be with TNK-BP. He left the board meeting today without speaking to reporters, climbing into a silver Lexus that sped off.
BP owns half of the oil firm, which is Russia’s third-largest.
It was once run by American Bob Dudley, now the favourite to replace Hayward as BP CEO. After Mr. Hayward made a series of missteps, including telling reporters he wanted his life back as Gulf residents struggled to deal with the spill, Mr. Dudley took over as BP’s point man in dealing with it. He was in London today with other board members.
Mr. Hayward was called back to London a month ago after a bruising encounter with a Congressional committee and has since kept a low profile.
“We’re getting to the end of the situation,” said David Battersby at Redmayne Bentley Stockbrokers. “To draw a line under it, they need a new chief executive.”
In New York, BP shares rose almost 5 per cent today as the stock market anticipated a formal announcement about Hayward. Shares of BP PLC rose $ 1.82, or 4.9 per cent, to $ 38.68 in midday trading in New York. BP shares closed up 4.6 per cent today at 416.95 pence in London.
The BP board would have to approve a change in company leadership, and there is persistent speculation that chairman Karl-Henric Svanberg, who moved into the post on Jan 1, is also likely to lose his job later this year.