Ex-BP boss to lose £32m after ‘serious misconduct’

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By Tom Espiner
Business reporter, BBC News

Former BP boss Bernard Looney will forfeit up to £32.4m after the oil giant found he committed “serious misconduct” in failing to disclose relationships with colleagues.

Mr Looney is to be dismissed without notice and will not receive further salary or benefits, the oil giant said.

He resigned in September after admitting not being “fully transparent” about his past personal relationships.

The board said they had been “knowingly misled” by Mr Looney.

On Wednesday, the firm said Mr Looney had given “inaccurate and incomplete assurances” as part of an investigation into the relationships in 2022.

Mr Looney said in a statement that he was “disappointed with the way this situation has been handled”.

His dismissal means he will get no further salary, pension allowance or benefits, no annual bonus, and lose out on nearly £25m in share awards.

It is understood that Mr Looney’s decision to resign meant his long-term performance share awards lapsed along with his annual bonus for 2023, which represented the majority – 87% – of the £32.4m package. The board also decided to halt other payments and bonuses.

BP first launched a review of Mr Looney’s relationships with colleagues following an anonymous tip-off in 2022.

At the time, the company said Mr Looney disclosed “a small number of historical relationships with colleagues prior to becoming CEO” and it found no breach of company conduct.

Mr Looney gave assurances then about disclosing the past relationships, as well as his future behaviour.

But in September the board said it had received similar allegations “recently”, prompting another review.

BP career

Mr Looney had spent his career at BP, which he joined in 1991 as a drilling engineer.

Born in Ireland and raised on a farm, he became a member of its executive team in 2010.

Before taking over as chief executive from Bob Dudley, he was previously head of oil and gas production.

Mr Looney presented himself as more approachable, posting pictures of smiling employees on Instagram when he took over in 2020.

He initially set out a plan to sharply cut net carbon emissions by 2050, but was later criticised by environmental groups for watering down the target.

His time as boss coincided with a tumultuous period for the company, including coronavirus pandemic lockdowns when demand for oil and gas fell sharply.

Months into his role as chief executive he also told staff that BP planned to cut 10,000 jobs due to the pandemic.

In 2022, the start of the war in Ukraine sent energy prices soaring, and prompted the firm to leave Russia after pressure from the UK government.

Mr Looney’s departure from BP comes as a series of high profile dismissals of executives in the UK has put a spotlight on executive personal behaviour.

Tony Danker, the head of the UK’s largest business lobby group the CBI, was fired in April over complaints about his behaviour at work.

Meanwhile, Crispin Odey was forced to step down from the hedge fund he founded in June after reports of sexual harassment allegations by 13 women. He has denied the claims.

Chief financial officer Murray Auchincloss has been acting as BP’s interim chief executive while the oil firm investigated allegations about Mr Looney, and searched for his successor.

Mr Auchincloss has previously said the firm’s “strategy hasn’t changed” and that “the leadership team we have in BP is also unchanged”, despite Mr Looney’s exit.

Mr Looney was approached for comment.

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13 September