BP refutes Times report of Hayward stepping down

Reacting to a British media report that BP chief executive Tony Hayward is to step down within 10 weeks in order to strengthen the company against a potential takeover was immediately refuted by the oil giant.

The Times newspaper today said, citing sources close to BP that Hayward, who has made a series of public relations gaffes after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, will announce that he is stepping down in late August or early September and American oil executive Robert Dudley, who was appointed last month to handle the spill is considered the front-runner for the job.

But within hours of Times publishing its report, a BP spokesperson said that Hayward has full support from the board and will remain in place.

The Times, which has lost almost 90 per cent of its online readership since it went behind a paywall on 15 June, (See: Online readers hate to pay, as London's Times may find) said that Hayward would have to step down in order for BP to strengthen its defence against a potential takeover by US giant ExxonMobil or Royal Dutch Shell.  

The paper has lately been "breaking" stories involving BP that have later turned out to be unfounded.

For instance, this particular report quoted an unidentified insider "familiar with the situation" as saying, "People may not blame this situation on Tony Hayward, but you would be hard-pushed to find anyone within the company who does not think he is irreparably damaged -- both by his own performance and the event itself."