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BP CEO Looney resigns over personal relationships with colleagues

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BP CEO Looney resigns over personal relationships with colleagues

 BP, CEO Bernard Looney resigned on Tuesday with immediate effect after less than four years in the oil major’s top job for failing to fully disclose details of past personal relationships with colleagues, the company said.

Chief Financial Officer Murray Auchincloss will act as CEO on an interim basis, the company said.

Looney, 53, became CEO in February 2020 with a vow to reinvent the 114-year-old company, laying out ambitious plans for the British energy giant to achieve zero net emissions by 2050, and to invest billions in renewable and low-carbon power.

Looney’s surprise resignation came after allegations of personal relationships with company colleagues surfaced recently, prompting the company to launch an investigation.

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That followed similar allegations the board investigated in May 2022. During that review, Looney disclosed “a small number of historical relationships with colleagues prior to becoming CEO.”

No breach of the company’s code of conduct was found at the time and the board was given assurances by Looney “regarding disclosure of past personal relationships, as well as his future behaviour.”

Looney informed BP’s board on Tuesday that he did not fully disclose details of all relationships, prompting his resignation.

BP shares in London ended up 1% before the FT reported Looney’s resignation. Its New York-listed shares fell 1.5% to the day’s lows after the news.

REINVENTING BP
Auchincloss 52, became CFO in July 2020 and has helped Looney steer the company through some of the most tumultuous years in modern history, from COVID-19 to a rapid exit from Russia following the invasion of Ukraine last year, an energy price shock, and a global cost of living crisis.

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Auchincloss, a Canadian national, started his career as a financial analyst in Amoco, before BP acquired the company in 1998. Since then he has held several roles including CFO of BP’s North American Gas business.

Earlier this year, BP scaled back plans to cut hydrocarbon production by 2030, to 25% from 2019 levels from 40% previously – still the most radical reduction of oil and gas output this decade among major oil companies.

BP has struggled to convince investors it can realise competitive returns from its non-hydrocarbon businesses.

Over the last three years, BP’s shares have underperformed those of European rival Shell (SHEL.L) as well as U.S. peers Chevron (CVX.N) and Exxon Mobil (XOM.N).

After raking in a record profit of $28 billion for 2022, BP’s second-quarter profit slumped 70% from a year earlier to $2.6 billion but still allowing the oil major to boost its dividend by 10%.

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It remained unclear if Looney’s departure would lead to an change in strategy.

“Depending on the new CEO, BP could theoretically roll back its transition plans further,” Morningstar analysts said in a note.

“But if the board likes the current direction, regardless of the lagging stock price, they will likely bring in someone who keeps BP on the same path.”

Looney’s 2022 pay packet more than doubled to around $12 million on the back of the bumper profits amid spiraling energy prices, while BP’s emissions were broadly unchanged from a year earlier.

BP said that “no decisions have yet been made in respect of any remuneration payments to be made” to Looney.

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Looney replaced Bob Dudley, who had steered BP through the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.

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Star Entertainment says Hard Rock-led group weighs bid, shares surge

Star Entertainment says Hard Rock-led group weighs bid, shares surge

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Star Entertainment says Hard Rock-led group weighs bid, shares surge

Star Entertainment (SGR.AX), opens new tab said on Monday a consortium led by Florida-based Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos is considering a bid for the cash-strapped Australian firm, sending its shares 20% higher.

A potential takeover by entertainment giant Hard Rock would provide a much-needed financial lifeline to Star, which has been plagued by a regulatory inquiry into its flagship Sydney casino operation and an executive exodus.

Star, which had a market value of A$1.29 billion ($863.66 million) as of Monday’s close, said it has been approached by a consortium of investors which includes Hard Rock Hotels & Resorts (Pacific).

The company said it understands Hard Rock Hotels is a local partner of Hard Rock.

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Earlier in the day, Star said it had received “inbound interest from a number of external parties” but flagged none of them had yet resulted in “substantive discussions”.

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Red Lobster seeks bankruptcy protection with $100 mln in financing commitments

Red Lobster seeks bankruptcy protection with $100 mln in financing commitments

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Red Lobster seeks bankruptcy protection with $100 mln in financing commitments

U.S.-based restaurant chain Red Lobster has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a Florida court after securing $100 million in financing commitments from its existing lenders, the company said on Sunday.

The company listed its assets and liabilities to be between $1 billion and $10 billion, according to a court filing.

Red Lobster said its restaurants will be open and operate as usual during the bankruptcy proceedings, and plans to reduce its locations as well as pursue a sale of substantially all its assets.

The restaurant chain also said it has entered into a “stalking horse” purchase agreement to sell its business to an entity formed and controlled by its existing term lenders.

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“This restructuring is the best path forward for Red Lobster. It allows us to address several financial and operational challenges and emerge stronger and re-focused on our growth,” said Jonathan Tibus, CEO of Red Lobster.

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BMW imported 8,000 vehicles into US with parts from banned Chinese supplier, Senate report says

BMW imported 8,000 vehicles into US with parts from banned Chinese supplier, Senate report says

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BMW imported 8,000 vehicles into US with parts from banned Chinese supplier, Senate report says

German automaker BMW (BMWG.DE), opens new tab imported at least 8,000 Mini Cooper vehicles into the United States with electronic components from a banned Chinese supplier, a U.S. Senate report released on Monday said.

A report by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden’s staff said BMW imported 8,000 Mini Coopers with parts from a Chinese supplier banned under a 2021 law and that BMW continued to import products with the banned parts until at least April.

BMW Group said in an email it had “taken steps to halt the importation of affected products.”

The company will be conducting a service action to replace the specific parts, adding it “has strict standards and policies regarding employment practices, human rights, and working conditions, which all our direct suppliers must follow.”

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Congress in 2021 passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) law to strengthen enforcement of laws to prevent the import of goods from China’s Xinjiang region believed to have been produced with forced labor by members of the country’s Uyghur minority group. China denies the allegations.

“Automakers’ self-policing is clearly not doing the job,” Wyden said, urging the Customs and Border Protection agency to “take a number of specific steps to supercharge enforcement and crack down on companies that fuel the shameful use of forced labor in China.” Customs and Border Protection did not immediately comment.

The report found that Bourns Inc, a California-based auto supplier, had sourced components from Sichuan Jingweida Technology Group (JWD). That Chinese company was added to the UFLPA Entity List in December, which means its products are presumed to be made with forced labor. 

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