BP has announced that its embattled chief executive Tony Hayward is leaving. Hayward, savaged for his handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, is resigning as the British-based company strives to rebuild its US image.
Embattled BP chief executive Tony Hayward is stepping down as the firm tries to repair its shattered reputation in the United States following the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
"BP today announced that, by mutual agreement with the BP board, Tony Hayward is to step down as group chief executive with effect from October 1, 2010," the company said in a statement.
Hayward has been strongly criticized for a series of public relations gaffes in his handling of what is now considered the worst environmental disaster in US history.
"I believe that it is not possible for the company to move on in the United States with me remaining as the face to BP," Hayward told reporters on a conference call. "So I think that for the good of BP, and particularly for the good of BP in the United States, it is right for me to step down."
Hayward, who is British, is to be replaced by American Robert Dudley, currently an executive director in charge of the oil spill clean-up operation in the Gulf of Mexico.
Among the perceived mistakes that Hayward was criticized for was a comment about the personal toll that the disaster had been taking on himself. "I want my life back," Hayward said in May.
The White House also took him to task after he was photographed taking a holiday from the clear-up of the oil-choked gulf to sail his yacht in crystal-clear waters off Britain.
Hayward is to remain on the board of the company until November 30 and then move as a non-executive director to one of BP's Russian joint ventures.
The company also announced a second quarter loss of $17.1 billion (13.17 billion euros) on Tuesday, one of the biggest losses in British corporate history.
In the past five years, BP has had to deal with three of the oil industry's most expensive safety and environmental incidents. An explosion in a Texas refinery in 2005 killed 15 workers, while an oil spill in Alaska one year later led to millions of dollars in fines.
The oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico was caused by the explosion and subsequent sinking of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon in April of this year, which killed 11 workers.
BP was the largest British company by market capitalization at the time of the explosion, but has seen its market share plunge by about 36 percent since April. Hayward took over as chief executive of BP from Lord Browne in 2007.
Author: Andreas Illmer, Richard Connor (dpa/AFP/AP)
Editor: Chuck Penfold