Over the weekend, news broke that three months after his oil company’s rig set off the largest oil spill in American history, BP CEO Tony Hayward would be stepping down. In his resignation statement, Hayward stressed that, “BP will be a changed company as a result of” its oil spill in the Gulf.
As the Progress Report today details, “Hayward’s departure will mark the end of a disastrous legacy that was spent botching the company’s response to its oil spill in the Gulf.” Almost a month after the gusher released 32 million gallons of toxic oil into the surrounding ocean as well as an unprecedented amount of chemical dispersants, Hayward told Sky News that “the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” In May, Hayward told a reporter who asked him about the victims of his company’s oil spill, “We’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused their lives. There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back.”
However, BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, who has previously told the American public that he cares about the “little people,” appeared on CNBC this morning to celebrate Hayward’s record at BP. “Tony Hayward has done a great job for the company,” Svanberg said proudly. He then admitted to CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo that the change in leadership at BP is simply cosmetic. Hayward’s presence at the company, Svanberg explained, hurt its image, so replacing Hayward was based simply on “rebuild[ing]” the BP “brand and reputation”:
SVANBERG: Tony Hayward has done a great job for the company through his almost thirty years and he has done it very well, greatly as a CEO. He has driven the company’s performance and developed the company in many, many ways. He has also led an unprecedented response in the Gulf of Mexico. But it became obvious to him and to us that in order to rebuild our position, in order to rebuilt our brand and reputation, we needed fresh leadership and that is why we are doing the change.
BARTIROMO: Of course on Hayward’s watch, the company suffered and the country in America suffered the worst environmental disaster ever.
Given the golden parachute pension Hayward received — “an immediate £600,000-a-year ($930,000) pension when he leaves the firm in October” — it’s no wonder his fellow executives at BP think highly of his tenure at the oil conglomerate.