BP’s Tony Hayward: Still Clueless

July 28, 2010

By Yul

Here we go again. Justice, corporate-style… Company going down the tubes with a self-inflicted disaster, and the executive on whose watch it happened traipses off with millions.

Tony Hayward talked a good game when he became BP’s CEO in 2007. He vowed to “focus like a laser” on safety, of all things.

We all know how that worked out. Eleven oil rig workers and untold wildlife are dead or dying slowly and horribly, thousands of people have lost their livelihoods, and the gooey Gulf of Mexico may never fully recover. Not to mention the collateral damage of fouled beaches ruining vacations for families from all over the country and starving the economies that depend on tourism.

Right after the disaster, Hayward seemed to make matters worse every time he opened his mouth — and spent $1 million on PR, starring in that smarmy TV commercial. At first, he didn’t seem to fully comprehend the scope of his company’s destruction (with help from Halliburton and Transocean). Then before Congress, he revealed himself to be a typically clueless suit who was totally out of the loop and perfectly fine with it.

Rightfully, BP recalled Hayward to England, where he promptly jumped aboard his yacht to sail where the water isn’t slimy.

Hayward needed to go as CEO, but they’re shuffling him off to the board of TNK-BP, Russia’s 3rd largest oil company. Hayward will be paid $1.6 million on the barrel instead of working out his employment deal’s one-year notice, and he’ll be eligible for a $17 million pension and stock options that could be worth millions more if BP ever recovers.

Meanwhile, thanks to the Gulf disaster, BP lost $17.2 billion in the second quarter.

Apparently, BP learned nothing from the fury over Wall Street rewarding executives who run their firms into ditches. While people in the Gulf fight with BP to get their claims paid, Hayward is being rewarded with a cushy new job and enough money so he can walk away from it if he doesn’t like Russia and never work another day in his life.

So much for accountability. And the ultimate outrage is that Hayward still believes he’s the hapless fall guy.

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