On Monday, July 26, Tony Hayward, the BP chief executive, announced that he would be stepping down after coming under fire for his handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Hayward has held the position since 2007. Since the spill, Hayward had been nearly constantly criticized for how he handled the disaster. Many said that he was out-of-touch with U.S. fishermen and did not understand their concerns. It is expected that Robert Dudley will be named as Hayward’s successor as soon as Tuesday. Dudley will be the first American chief executive in the history of the London-based company.
Hayward joins a long list of disgraced executives forced to resign after his or her company came under fire. Take, for instance, Gerald Levin, the CEO of Time Warner. He orchestrated a merger between Time Warner and AOL. The deal obviously failed, and Time Warner lost over $200 billion in Time Warner shareholder value. Recently, Levin apologized for his nearly 10-year-old mistake, saying that it was “one of the worst deal of the century.” (http://www.observer.com/2010/daily-transom/gerald-levin-sorry-losing-shareholders-billions)
Or how about Bob Allen, the executive for AT&T. In 1997, he forced a merger with NCR Corp., a software company. After losing $12 billion in a few months, and being forced to layoff 50,000 AT&T employees, even he was forced to admit it was a huge screw up.
While Hayward may not have individually caused the oil spill in the Gulf, this is how he’ll probably be remembered. As BP prepares to hire an American to lead its company for the first time, there is renewed hope in the Gulf. Many fishermen and others feel that Dudley is much more in touch with the situation at-hand (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38414687/ns/business-world_business) and that he will be able to negotiate a deal that will better serve the areas that have been most affected by the disaster.
He has a tough job ahead, trying to save a company that has lost both money and respect since this disaster started. Once the spill is cleaned up, he will also have to work to repair BP’s very tarnished image.