Not everyone was convinced. Rumours had been circulating for some time of a boardroom rift, between BP’s chief executive Lord Browne, (who is 18 months from his 60th birthday) and its chairman Peter Sutherland. But yesterday, Lord Browne protested loudly and vehemently, if perhaps a little too much saying, “…reading the speculation about my position, I was both astonished and rather shocked by it all. I want to be crystal clear about the situation. As I have said many times publicly in recent months, I will be retiring in 2008. Peter Sutherland and I have discussed this and agreed it between ourselves and the board that I will leave BP at the end of 2008.
“Let me add that even if I was asked to stay, I would decline,” he explained.
But despite the strong words, the FT headlined “Sutherland triumphs in power play” while the Independent said “ Lord Browne is said to have clashed with Mr. Sutherland over the timing of his retirement at a tense meeting between the two last Friday” So is he jumping in 2008, or being pushed?
Either way, there will be no shortage of companies wishing to avail themselves of his wisdom. Lord Browne says that while he will be stepping down from BP, he has no intention to retire.
But what of BP? Yesterday the company posted record profits of $6.1 billion. That’s 23 percent up on last year. Records always make markets sit up, but this time, the reaction was to sell.
Lurking amongst the good news about the profits was some bad. In the US, BP has been rocked by safety scandal and, as a result, the company is investing heavily into improving safety which has increased costs.
Delays to the Thunder Horse platform in the US Gulf of Mexico, which was handed out a drubbing by the hurricanes last year, have also hit projected profits.
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