Resignation of BP’s Kerry-born CEO Bernard Looney due to Past Personal Relationships with Colleagues

Kerry-born Bernard Looney, the former CEO of BP, made headlines when he resigned from the company in February 2020. Looney had big plans for BP, aiming to achieve zero net emissions by 2050 and invest heavily in renewable and low-carbon power. However, his resignation came after allegations of personal relationships with colleagues arose, which prompted an investigation by the company.

These allegations followed a previous investigation in May 2022 relating to similar personal relationships. During that review, Looney admitted to having “a small number of historical relationships with colleagues prior to becoming CEO.” At the time, the board found no breach of the company’s code of conduct and received assurances from Looney regarding disclosure of past relationships and his future behavior.

However, Looney recently informed BP’s board that he did not fully disclose all the details of his relationships, leading to his resignation. The company announced that BP’s Chief Financial Officer, Murray Auchincloss, would serve as interim CEO.

Bernard Looney, originally from Kerry, Ireland, rose through the ranks at BP to become CEO in 2020. He had a successful career at the company, leading its Upstream division before taking on the top role. Looney’s departure leaves a significant void in the company as one of the most senior Irish executives in any sector.

BP has faced challenges under Looney’s leadership, including its decision to exit Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Additionally, the company has been criticized for its “green washing” practices, as it funded a social media campaign that downplayed its carbon energy businesses. BP has struggled to convince investors of its ability to generate competitive returns from non-hydrocarbon ventures.

Despite challenges, BP reported record profits in 2022. However, the company’s second-quarter profit declined by 70% compared to the previous year, reflecting market volatility. It remains uncertain whether Looney’s departure will impact the company’s strategy.

BP’s future direction will likely depend on the new CEO. While there may be speculation about potential changes, the board will likely seek a candidate who will maintain the company’s current trajectory.

Looney’s departure comes after he received a significant pay increase in 2022 due to the company’s strong financial performance. However, concerns have been raised about BP’s emissions remaining largely unchanged despite the profits.

BP has yet to make decisions regarding any remuneration payments to be made to Looney. Looney succeeded Bob Dudley, who guided BP through the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.


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