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LONDON -- BP announced last week that chief executive John Browne decided to retire at the end of July 2007, instead of the previously announced end of 2008, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
"John decided that it would be in the company's interest to name a successor now in order to provide an orderly transition," Peter Sutherland, BP chairman, said in a written statement. "Having made that decision, which the board fully supports, we came to the conclusion that a six month handover would be more appropriate than 18 months."
Browne, who has led the company since 1998, will be succeeded by Tony Hayward, the current head of exploration and production for BP.
Browne has been under pressure from regulators, investigators and politicians for the company's mishaps that have occurred in the U.S. under his leadership, the report stated. Early in 2005, an explosion at the company's Texas City, Texas refinery killed 15 workers, sparking lawsuits, fines and a continuing criminal investigation, the report stated. Another probe into the company concerns pipeline corrosion that resulted in the shutdown of refineries at the BP-operated Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. In addition, the company is under fire for its energy trading. Federal investigators allege that the company manipulated the propane markets in 2004, and possible the oil and gasoline markets as well, the Journal reported.
"It has been a privilege to have had the opportunity to turn BP into an international company at the forefront of the energy industry," said Browne in a written statement. "We clearly have important issues still to deal with which I am determined to address. I am pleased that Peter and I have been able to work together to develop a successor in Tony in whom I have every confidence."
Hayward was named to BP's board in 2003, shortly after he became the CEO of the company's exploration and production unit. Before the announcement of Browne's retirement, Hayward was named one of the possible candidates to take his place. He joined the company in 1982 and has spent time in London, Aberdeen, France, China, Glasgow, Columbia and Venezuela for the company's exploration segment.
Hayward is also a non-executive and senior independent director of Corus Group, and was appointed to the role of companion for the Chartered Management Institute in September 2005 and was a member of Citibank's advisory board between 2000 and 2003.
Browne's Rise to the Throne:
-- Browne joins BP in 1966 as a university apprentice. He holds a degree in Physics from Cambridge University and a Master of Science in Business from Stanford University, California.
-- Between 1969 and 1983, Browne held a number of exploration and production positions in Anchorage, Alaska; New York; San Francisco; London and Canada.
-- In 1984 he was promoted to group treasurer and chief executive of BP Finance International.
-- In 1986, Browne moved to the Cleveland, Ohio-based Standard Oil Company where he was executive vice president and CFO.
-- Following the BP/Standard Oil merger in 1987, Browne was named executive vice president and chief financial officer of BP America, in addition to CEO of Standard Oil Production Company.
-- In 1989, he took the role of managing director and CEO of BP Exploration, based in London.
-- In September 1991, he was elected to the board of the British Petroleum Co. PLC as a managing director.
-- He was appointed group chief executive in 1995.
-- Following the merger of BP and Amoco, Browne became group chief executive of BP Amoco in 1998. That same year, he was knighted.