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BP chairman Helge Lund has ruled out becoming the oil giant’s next chief executive following the sudden departure of boss Bernard Looney. He rushed to reassure shareholders that it was “business as usual” at the company.

BP confirmed on Thursday that Lund, the former chief executive of Equinor Norway, told investors in a series of emergency meetings that he would remain chairman and would not replace Rooney.

Looney resigned from BP on Tuesday after admitting he failed to disclose the extent of past relationships with employees. Lund is also chairman of Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk, which this month became Europe’s largest company by market capitalization, and has been considered a possible successor CEO.

In meetings with investors, Lund emphasized that the company’s strategy would remain unchanged and viewed itself as a “safety help,” according to a major shareholder who spoke to Lund this week. “He said it’s business as usual and the strategy remains the same.”

But the investor added that Lund provided no further information about the number or nature of Looney’s personal relationships with employees, including information that the outgoing CEO allegedly did not disclose.

The second-largest shareholder questioned whether the board conducted adequate due diligence when selecting Looney to run the company in the second half of 2019.

The nature of Looney’s resignation “raises questions about BP’s ethics and culture…” . We don’t know how this could still happen with a company of this size,” the shareholder said. “Our real question is. . . Why aren’t boards more strict?”

Looney is not the first BP CEO to resign amid personal tensions. Lord John Browne resigned in 2007 after he lied to a court about how he met his partner.

BP said there was a “rigorous and thorough appointment process” when Looney was selected as CEO in 2019. These included “a thorough pre-appointment due diligence process, a review of open source data and an interview with Bernard”.

Looney assured the board that he had nothing further to disclose after BP’s board launched an external review in May 2022 when new information about past relationships with colleagues surfaced from anonymous sources.

The Irish executive resigned on Tuesday after the board received a second set of allegations last week. Following Looney’s resignation, BP Chief Financial Officer Murray Auchincloss was named interim CEO.

The largest shareholder said he understood Rooney disclosed some information about past relationships to the board in 2019. “As long as the board is happy, he will make full disclosure.” They have done their best. ” said the investor. “He’s a great CEO for the company, so I’m not going to embarrass the board by putting him in this position. “

A person familiar with the CEO selection process said that in the years before Rooney was appointed, the board and BP executives viewed his love life and relationships as personal and not the domain of the company. He married in 2017 and divorced in February 2020 while he was serving as CEO.

Three people familiar with Rooney’s appointment said any concerns about him because of his personal relationships with colleagues were outweighed by his record at the company.

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