Tony Hayward, who became the face of BP's flailing efforts to contain the massive Gulf oil spill, will step down as chief executive in October and be offered a job with the company's joint venture in Russia, a person familiar with the matter said today.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made by the British company's board, which was meeting today in London to decide Hayward's fate.
It's not yet clear what Hayward's role will be with TNK-BP. BP owns half of the oil firm, which is Russia's third-largest.
It was once run by American Bob Dudley, now the odds-on favorite to replace Hayward as BP CEO. After Hayward made a series of missteps, including telling reporters he wanted his life back as Gulf residents struggled to deal with the spill, Dudley took over as BP's point man in dealing with it. He was in London today with other board members.
Hayward was called back to London a month ago after a bruising encounter with a Congressional committee and has since kept a low profile.
"We're getting to the end of the situation," said David Battersby at Redmayne Bentley Stockbrokers. "To draw a line under it, they need a new chief executive."
In New York, BP shares rose almost 5 percent today as the stock market anticipated a formal announcement about Hayward. Shares of BP PLC rose $1.82, or 4.9 percent, to $38.68 in midday trading in New York. BP shares closed up 4.6 percent today at 416.95 pence in London.
The BP board would have to approve a change in company leadership, and there is persistent speculation that chairman Karl-Henric Svanberg, who moved into the post on Jan. 1, is also likely to lose his job later this year.
The one-day board meeting comes a day before BP announces earnings for the second quarter. That report is expected to include preliminary provisions for the cost of the Gulf disaster, with analysts saying that could be as high as $30 billion.