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BP Chief, Bernard Looney, Steps Down Amid Scrutiny Over Personal Conduct

Last Updated on: 22nd November 2023, 01:44 pm

BP Chief, Bernard Looney, Steps Down Amid Scrutiny Over Personal Conduct

In a surprising turn of events, Bernard Looney, the CEO of oil behemoth BP, has tendered his resignation, following inquiries into his personal associations with team members.

Late in the evening, the company disclosed that Mr. Looney, who had been at the helm since 2020, had opted to resign effective immediately. This move follows BP’s recent probe into Looney’s alleged interpersonal relationships within the company, marking the second such investigation in a span of two years.

BP’s official statement highlighted that Looney conceded he hadn’t been entirely candid in his initial disclosures. “BP is rooted in its core values, and the board holds every individual, especially its leaders, to the highest standards of these values,” a representative commented.

Nick Butler, ex-strategy chief at BP, voiced his astonishment at Looney’s sudden departure on the BBC’s Today programme, noting, “Leadership has always been pivotal at BP, and Bernard was a linchpin. It remains to be seen how his successor will navigate the challenges.”

Sophie Lund-Yates from Hargreaves Lansdown underscored the anticipation surrounding BP’s upcoming leadership choice, emphasizing the need for a strategic course to mitigate any adverse public perception.

Originating from Ireland and having grown up on a farm, Looney’s journey at BP began in 1991 as a drilling engineer. He joined the executive squad in 2010 and, before his CEO role, oversaw oil and gas production. Renowned for his affable demeanor, Looney often engaged on platforms like Instagram, offering a more human touch to the CEO persona. His term witnessed significant shifts in the industry, especially due to pandemic-induced demand drops and geopolitical tensions.

Looney had charted a vision for BP’s net-zero emissions by 2050. However, recent criticisms emerged, accusing him of diluting the initial goals.

Regarding his remuneration, the company revealed no decisions yet on Looney’s exit package. Last year, he pocketed over £10m, largely fueled by record oil profits.

Murray Auchincloss, BP’s CFO, will step in as an interim CEO. In a recent webcast, Auchincloss reassured staff that the company’s core strategies remain unchanged, emphasizing a continuous commitment to safety.

Looney’s exit is part of a broader narrative, with other UK executives facing increased scrutiny over personal conduct. For instance, Tony Danker of the CBI and Crispin Odey of his eponymous hedge fund have had their share of controversies in recent times.

BP had earlier cleared Looney in a 2022 probe following an anonymous lead about relationships predating his CEO role. Although he provided reassurances then, recent allegations led to a renewed assessment, culminating in his current decision to step down.

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