BP board to discuss chief executive Hayward's future

Oil giant meeting tomorrow as speculation mounts that CEO will be forced to step down within days.

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BP's board will discuss the future of the company's chief executive, Tony Hayward, tomorrow as speculation mounts that he will be forced to step down within days. The discussions would focus on the timing of Mr Hayward's departure rather than on whether he would stay with the company, Reuters reported today, citing unnamed sources. Meanwhile, London media reported today that a weekend of detailed negotiations over Mr Hayward's severance package would be followed by an announcement on the chief executive's future, possibly within the next 48 hours.

"It now appears almost certain that he will announce his departure ahead of BP's half year results on Tuesday," The Daily Telegraph newspaper said. "It is now thought to be widely agreed by the BP board that it is only with Mr Hayward's departure that the company can draw a line under the Gulf of Mexico disaster and plan for the future," it added. On Saturday, a BP spokesman rejected earlier newspaper reports that Mr Hayward was preparing to step down.

"We are announcing our results on Tuesday. Tony Hayward is the chief executive of BP. He has the full support of the management and the board," the spokesman said. A consensus of analysts' estimates suggests that BP made almost US$10 billion (Dh36.67bn) in profits in the first six months of this year, despite spending about $4bn to date on efforts to stop crude flowing from its damaged Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico and clean up the worst oil spill in US history. Nevertheless, the company, which potentially faces tens of billions of dollars in liabilities, may record a $25bn pretax loss for the second quarter.