BP appoints Murray Auchincloss as its permanent boss

BP has appointed Murray Auchincloss as its new chief executive, after the surprise resignation of former boss Bernard Looney last year.

Mr Auchincloss has been acting as interim chief executive of the energy giant since September but will now take on the role permanently.

BP said it had gone through a “robust and competitive” search for a new boss, including considering candidates from outside the business, but decided Mr Auchincloss is “the right leader” for the group.

Mr Looney resigned suddenly in September after failing to disclose his past relationships with company colleagues.

The former chief executive accepted he was not “fully transparent” in providing details of all relationships to the company board.

He was denied £32.4 million-worth of salary, pension, bonus payments and shares, after the firm later said he committed “serious misconduct” by misleading the board.

The majority of the forfeited pay package was made up of unvested share awards linked to performance, BP said.

Mr Looney had spent his working life at the firm, having started as a drilling engineer in 1991.

Bernard Looney resignation
Former BP chief executive Bernard Looney resigned suddenly in September (Aaron Chown/PA)

Mr Auchincloss is a 53-year-old Canadian national who was BP’s chief financial officer for more than three years, having joined BP when it took over oil firm Amoco in 1998.

It emerged that he is also in a relationship with a colleague at BP, but the firm previously said it had been fully disclosed to the group at the appropriate time.

BP does not ban relationships between staff, but its code of conduct says employees must consider conflicts of interest, for example in having an “intimate relationship with someone whose pay, advancement or management you can influence”.

The new boss will take home an annual salary of £1.45 million before pension and bonus opportunities.

BP chairman Helge Lund said: “Since September, BP’s board has undertaken a thorough and highly competitive process to identify BP’s next CEO, considering a number of high-calibre candidates in detail.

“The board is in complete agreement that Murray was the outstanding candidate and is the right leader for BP.

“Many already know Murray well, and few know BP better than he does.”

He added that Mr Auchincloss will lead the business through its “disciplined transformation to an integrated energy company”.

Mr Auchincloss said: “It’s an honour to lead BP – this is a great company with great people.

“Our strategy – from international oil company to integrated energy company, or IOC to IEC – does not change. I’m convinced about the significant value we can create.”

Mr Auchincloss has been described by experts as the “continuity candidate” for BP, which decided to stick to its previous strategy of appointing bosses from inside the business.

Biraj Borkhataria, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said his appointment is the best possible outcome for the group’s shareholders, as hiring someone from outside the company would have brought “further uncertainty on the direction of the business and potentially more noise around another strategy shift.”

Meanwhile, Charlie Kronick, senior climate adviser at environmental group Greenpeace UK, criticised the move as “business as usual for a company that is still failing to transition away from fossil fuels at anything like the pace required”.

“A change at the top was an opportunity for a different approach that redirects significant spending towards the cheap, clean renewables we need to power us through the rest of the century,” he said.

BP has had four different bosses over the past 15 years. Prior to Mr Looney’s appointment in 2020, Bob Dudley served nearly a decade as chief executive, stepping in to turn the business around after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.