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Published on 23/01/2020 3:35:28 PM | Source: Reuters

BP appoints new finance chief as Looney prepares to take over

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By Ron Bousso and Yadarisa Shabong

LONDON - BP's finance chief Brian Gilvary is to step down in June after eight years in the role and will be replaced by a close ally of Bernard Looney who takes over as chief executive next month.

Murray Auchincloss, currently finance head of BP's upstream division, will become BP's chief financial officer on July 1, the company said on Tuesday.

Gilvary has been credited with overseeing BP's financial recovery following the 2010 deadly Gulf of Mexico oil spill which has cost the company more than $65 billion in fines, indemnities and clean up costs.

The London-based company saw its profits recover sharply in recent years, allowing it to remove the scrip dividend last year, an austerity measure on shareholder payouts.

However, in October, Gilvary appeared to backtrack on a previous hint that the company would boost its dividend payouts, angering investors.

His departure comes earlier than anticipated and as Looney, who will replace Bob Dudley as chief executive of BP after a decade, faces the tricky task of navigating the energy major through a rising tide of environmentalism and the move to a low-carbon economy.

"Gilvary's departure may be associated with a more significant change in the company's strategy including its financial strategy as the running of BP moves to a new top team," stockbroker Panmure Gordon said in a note.

Panmure Gordon said Gilvary's departure may also be associated with "problematic guidance over dividend", a view which BP later rejected as "not true".

Gilvary, an avid triathlete who joined BP in 1986, will step down from the board on June 30. He is a non-executive director at Air Liquide, the Royal Navy Board and the Francis Crick Institute.

In his current role Auchincloss worked with Looney, who until being appointed CEO was head of BP's oil and gas production division, known as upstream. Auchincloss oversaw a broad cost-cutting drive across the division in the wake of the 2014 oil price crash.

"I have worked side-by-side with Murray for many years and have the utmost confidence in his ability to step into this critical role," Looney said in a statement.

(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Susan Fenton)