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The Daily Telegraph: The ‘rock star’ plays tunes of glory (BP Chief Lord Browne)

EXTRACT: How about speaking Dutch (code for running Shell)?

“Nothing involving a foreign language,” he said.

THE ARTICLE

By Christopher Hope

(Filed: 26/07/2006)

BP chief Lord Browne of Madingley answered questions for an hour. But he had to wait until the very end for one about the oil company’s half-year results.

The big question for the man dubbed “the nearest thing British business has to a rock star” by a national newspaper yesterday morning was should he stay or should he go?

If the BP chief wanted to hang around for longer than 2008, he did well to hide it. “Even if I was asked to stay I would have declined. The company is not about one person and I have a very strong team,” he repeated, in different ways.

First he quoted Bette Midler (“Now that we have talked about me, let me hear about you. Now let’s change the subject”).

Then former Labour PM Jim Callaghan (“It would have been better if July had been cancelled”).

Finally Otto von Bismarck, who introduced retirement in the 1880s. “This idea, invented by Bismarck, is out of date and he is long gone.”

So what’s next for the greatest CEO of his generation? He quite liked the idea of earning a lot of money and then giving it all away, he said. But he was not going to become chairman or life president of BP.

“It is not a good idea,” he said, as he made for the exit. How about speaking Dutch (code for running Shell)? “Nothing involving a foreign language,” he said. Or a role in politics? “Politics are out,” he laughed.

Then he was gone. “It’s good to have clarity,” said Tony Hayward, one of several who might succeed him. But Lord Browne had posed more questions than he had answered.
 

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