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The Independent: Shareholders urge Browne to stand down from Goldman Sachs

EXTRACT: Tom Borelli, fund manager at Feaf, said Lord Browne had spent too much time burnishing BP’s green credentials, with its “Beyond Petroleum” campaign, and not enough time paying attention to safety. 

THE ARTICLE

By Stephen Foley in New York
Published: 28 March 2007

Lord Browne of Madingley, the outgoing chief executive of BP, came under fire from shareholders at Goldman Sachs at the bank’s annual meeting.

The peer has sat on the Goldman Sachs board since its flotation in 1999, but yesterday he faced calls for his resignation because of what some investors said was his poor management record at BP.

Representatives of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, an activist shareholder, said he bore responsibility for disasters such as the Texas City oil refinery explosion, where 15 BP employees died, and Alaska’s worst on-land oil spill.

The Feaf, an aggressive mutual fund, which demands companies put profits before environmentalism, last year attacked Goldman Sachs’ decision to donate environmentally sensitive land in Chile to green charities connected to the son of the then chief executive, Hank Paulson.

Tom Borelli, fund manager at Feaf, said Lord Browne had spent too much time burnishing BP’s green credentials, with its “Beyond Petroleum” campaign, and not enough time paying attention to safety.

He is a “poster child for everything a chief executive officer should not be”, Mr Borelli said. “Given Lord Browne’s record of destruction [of value], why do we need him on the Goldman Sachs board? What does he contribute? Shouldn’t we follow BP’s own shareholders and retire Lord Browne early?”

BP said in January that Lord Browne would retire in the summer, 18 months early. It is fighting to restore its reputation in the US, which has been punished by the disasters Feaf cited yesterday. A report into the Texas City explosion concluded that Lord Browne could have improved safety if he had “demonstrated comparable leadership” on this issue.

In the event, less than 7 per cent of Goldman Sachs shareholders withheld their support for the re-election of Lord Browne.

http://news.independent.co.uk/business/news/article2398939.ece

http://www.freeenterpriseactionfund.com/

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