UK oil giant BP said its new, interim CEO is in a romantic relationship with a coworker — days after Bernard Looney was ousted as chief executive over his failure to disclose his own personal entanglements in the office.
Interim CEO Murray Auchincloss — who has temporarily taken the helm of the British energy firm formerly known as British Petroleum following Looney’s dramatic exit — was hired in July 2020 as BP’s chief financial officer four months after Looney became CEO.
Meanwhile, the 52-year-old executive also “is in a longstanding relationship, and his partner also works in BP,” a company spokesperson confirmed to The Post.
Unlike Looney, however, Auchincloss’s office romance “has been fully and appropriately disclosed within BP, including through his recruitment as CFO almost four years ago,” the spokesperson added.
“As his partner, she is identified as ‘a person closely associated with’ Murray under disclosure regulations,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “And so her transactions in BP shares are fully and appropriately reported to the London Stock Exchange.”
Looney hadn’t been so forthcoming about his office flings, and resigned this week 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.
BP’s board had already investigated Looney’s rumored relationships with coworkers back in May 2022. During that review, Looney disclosed “a small number of historical relationships with colleagues prior to becoming CEO.”
The board shrugged off the allegations at the time, saying that there was no breach of the company’s code of conduct. The board also said it was given assurances by Looney last year “regarding disclosure of past personal relationships, as well as his future behavior.”
However, when similar allegations of the boss’ in-office tie-ups surfaced again recently, Looney stepped away from his position, informing BP’s board on Tuesday that he had not fully disclosed all the details of his relationships.
BP’s code of conduct does not outright ban relationships between staffers, though it advises employees to “proactively manage conflicts of interest,” which can include “having an intimate relationship with someone whose pay, advancement or management you can influence.”
Auchincloss told BP’s workforce in a 10-minute town-hall meeting on Wednesday that the company’s “fundamentals” had not changed, the company said.
“Our strategy hasn’t changed. And our focus remains on performance — quarter by quarter,” he added.
Auchincloss, a Canadian national, was hired at BP to help Irish-born 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.
He started his career as a financial analyst at fuel-station company Amoco before BP acquired the company in 1998. Since then, he has held several roles at the oil giant, including CFO of BP’s North American Gas business.
BP’s board is reportedly searching internally and externally for a new permanent chief — a position that has seen a lot of turnover.
Back in 2007, BP’s then-chief Lord John Browne stepped down from the top spot over news of his personal relationships bleeding into the workplace.
Browne was outed as gay by British tabloid The Mail on Sunday, which disclosed that he was in a relationship with a man 34 years his junior.
Browne went on to sue the newspaper group behind The Mail in an effort to prevent the publishers from revealing details about his private life.
However, Browne admitted that he lied in his initial witness statement about how he met his homosexual lover, Jeff Chevalier, and resigned from the company to “avoid unnecessary embarrassment and distraction to the company,” he said at the time.
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