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BP CEO nears exit, spill work resumes

London, July 26, 2010

BP has decided that chief executive Tony Hayward should step down over his handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and his departure could be announced in the coming days, sources close to the company said.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that if BP's board approves Hayward's departure as expected, managing director Bob Dudley would be named to replace him as CEO.

As the boardroom drama intensified, clearing weather in the spill zone allowed work to resume on drilling a relief well to plug the leak that has been spewing oil into the Gulf for some three months.

A Transocean Ltd. rig was reconnecting equipment, a BP spokeswoman said. Other vessels that had left the region late Friday to get out of the path of what was Tropical Storm Bonnie were also returning.

BP's board will discuss the timing of Hayward's exit when it meets on Monday to review BP's second-quarter results ahead of their release on Tuesday, the sources said. 'The details are being worked out,' one source said.

The London-based company could announce on Tuesday that Hayward will stand down in the months ahead, after a handover period, the sources said.

However, the company is also mulling whether to hold off on announcing Hayward's departure until the Macondo well, which has been sealed with a temporary cap after leaking up to 60,000 barrels per day into the sea, has been shut off for good.

A BBC news report said Hayward has been negotiating the terms of his exit and a formal announcement was likely within the next 24 hours. The Wall Street Journal said the decision to move toward Hayward's departure was 'mutual.'

BP, which has lost 40 per cent of its market capitalisation since the blast that prompted the spill, would not comment on the reports and said Hayward remained the CEO, with the full support of the board and management.

But a BP spokesman declined to repeat the company's statements from last week that the board was not even discussing Hayward's future.

Hayward has become a lightning rod for public anger in the United States due to the spill and public relations gaffes such as saying on television that he wanted his life back and later going sailing in the middle of the disaster.

Investors fear Hayward's continued presence at the company will make it harder for BP to rebuild its reputation in the United States, where 40 per cent of its assets are based.-Reuters




Tags: BP | exit |

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