Reports: BP May Oust Hayward

Tony Hayward reportedly will be sacked Monday as BP's CEO. The company is trying to recover from the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Ed Crooks, who is following the story for the Financial Times, offers his insight.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Numerous media reports say that the head of BP is on his way out. The company's CEO, Tony Hayward, has faced sharp criticism since the BP well blew out in the Gulf of Mexico back in April. Eleven workers on the drilling platform were killed. Millions and millions of barrels of oil have gushed into the Gulf, and the spill has created economic havoc in many communities along the coast.

After a month of dealing with the spill, Tony Hayward uttered one of his more infamous faux pas: He said he wished he had his life back. The British paper, the Financial Times, is among those reporting that Hayward is about to be replaced.

One of the reporters on that piece, Ed Crooks, is with us to talk about it.

Welcome.

Mr. ED CROOKS (Energy Editor, Financial Times): Hi. Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Morning. What do you hear, first of all, about Tony Hayward's future?

Mr. CROOKS: Well, it's formally being decided at a meeting of BP's board in London this afternoon, but it seems pretty clear the way that's going to going to go, which is that Tony Hayward will agree with the company that he's going to be stepping down as CEO. As I say, it's not formally decided yet, and that the company says that as of this moment right now, he's still the chief executive, but I think that will no longer be the case by the end of the day, and it probably will be formally announced on Tuesday morning.

MONTAGNE: Now what made the board of BP take this step, if it does later today, at this time?

Mr. CROOKS: I think the crucial thing is BP's position in the United States. The - as you've been saying, you were talking about some of the things that Tony Hayward said, the notorious I'd-like-my-life-back comment, the talk about it being a small amount of oil in a large ocean in the Gulf of Mexico, and so on. That, of course, notoriously made Tony Hayward a real hate figure in the U.S. He was absolutely blasted U.S. newspapers and television stations. He's completely lost credibility with American politicians, as well, if you looked at the way he was received in Congress when he went for that hearing at the House Energy Committee.

And BP still believes that, as a company, it does have a future there. In spite of the spill, in spite of all the damage that's been done and so on, the U.S. is a very, very important country to BP. It's got something like getting on for probably 40 percent of its business is in the U.S. It doesn't want to give that up.

It thinks it can come back from the spill, can rebuild the business in the country, and if it's going to do that, it can't have a chief executive with no credibility. So they need a new CEO, and it looks like it's going to be an American, indeed, Bob Dudley, who is going to take over.

MONTAGNE: Bob Dudley, who at this point and time, is the face of BP in terms of organizing the oil spill.

Mr. CROOKS: Exactly. That's right. His formal title, he's the managing director for the Americas and Asia, and he's the formal head of BP's operation in Russia, where he was considered to have done a very good job in very difficult circumstances, and he's an American. He was born in New York. He grew up in Mississippi. You've probably seen or heard some of the interviews he's given where he's talked about how well he knows the Gulf region, how he himself used to swim and fish in the Gulf when he was a boy. So he has a real understanding of the pain and the anger that people feel in that region because of the spill, and he's able to make that kind of emotional connection that Tony Hayward completely failed to make.

MONTAGNE: Are there any details on such things as the pay package that he'll get for stepping down?

Mr. CROOKS: No. There aren't. And none of this is being talked about officially yet. I mean, I think the question is, really: What's he entitled to in the terms of his contract? And I think he will get that, but no more. So there's been a certain amount commentary around about, oh, he's taking away this huge payoff. Look at this. What about 16, $17 million that he's taking away? Of course, it is only what he's become entitled to through his service at the company over all those years. It's not an extra amount being paid to him as compensation for the fact that his contract is ending, and so on. So I think to call it a payoff is a bit stretching the truth, really - that is, the money that he is taking to go, or taking when he goes, but it's not the money he is taking because he's going.

MONTAGNE: Let me ask you, though, about Tony Hayward departing. Is it just because of the oil disaster, the well blowout disaster alone, or is it also partly about the controversy over the return of the man convicted in the Lockerbie bombing to Libya? That came back up again during the visit of Prime Minister David Cameron, because the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wants to talk to Tony Hayward about that. Could there have been any deal or any pressure on the part of BP to get this convicted bomber released?

Mr. CROOKS: No. I think there's absolutely no connection at all between that and Tony Hayward's departure. I think it is absolutely the spill. It's really about how BP came to be involved in this accident and, in particular, how BP responded to the accident that's really the reason he's got to go.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for joining us.

Mr. CROOKS: My pleasure.

MONTAGNE: Ed Crooks is the energy editor for the Financial Times. He joined us from London.

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