Energy Musings contains articles and analyses dealing with important issues and developments within the energy industry, including historical perspective, with potentially significant implications for executives planning their companies’ future.
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September 14, 2023
Will New BP CEO Toe The Green Agenda Or Target O&G?
BP CEO Bernard Looney has resigned over disclosure issues of past dalliances with company employees and previous assurances he made to the Board of Directors about his future actions. Given the details and timing of the resignation, some wonder if the poor stock price performance reflecting Looney’s commitment to more green energy also played a role in his leaving. BP directors have an opportunity to reset the company’s strategy, but will it or will it continue the current push for a greater role by renewable energy with its lower profitability? READ MORE
Will New BP CEO Hue The Green Agenda Or Target O&G?
Tuesday, the BP family was rocked with news that CEO Bernard Looney was resigning immediately to be replaced on an interim basis by current CFO Murray Auchincloss. The company’s press release, “bp CEO resigns,” outlined the basics of the story. Two years after Looney was appointed CEO, the Board of Directors received information from an anonymous source that he had personal relationships with company employees that had not been previously disclosed. With the assistance of outside counsel, the Board reviewed the allegations.
During the Board’s investigation, Looney told the directors of a “small number of historical relationships with colleagues prior to becoming CEO.” The Board’s review of the information concluded no breach of the Company’s Code of Conduct had occurred. At that time, the Board was given assurances by Looney about the details of these relationships and his future behavior. Recently, another anonymous source provided information questioning Looney’s assurances that reopened the investigation that is reportedly still ongoing. We assume the ongoing investigation is involved in helping the Board determine what compensation is owed to Looney.
As the BP press release stated: “Mr. Looney has today informed the Company that he now accepts that he was not fully transparent in his previous disclosures. He did not provide details of all relationships and accepts he was obligated to make more complete disclosure.”
According to Wikipedia, Looney married British life coach Jacqueline Hurst in October 2017. They separated in 2018 and divorced in 2019, three months before Looney became CEO. According to her 2021 book, in a chapter on anxiety, Hurst claims Looney only married her to get promoted at BP. She also said that he ended the marriage with a WhatsApp message.
At the time, The Sunday Times interviewed a friend of Looney’s who said, “He was briefly married during a period in which he wasn’t promoted. So, if he married her to get promoted, that didn’t seem to have worked. Maybe he divorced her to get promoted.”
For the second time in two decades, BP has lost its CEO over undisclosed personal relationships that question honesty and judgment. It also raises questions about the integrity of the Board’s CEO search process. Interestingly, the other CEO, Lord John Brown, had his previously undisclosed personal relationship publicized by a London newspaper. Some investors are wondering whether another judgment issue is playing a greater role in Looney’s departure than his dalliances. This question underlays a recent Wall Street Journal article about BP’s future strategy.