April 7, 2009 / 12:04 PM / in 9 years

PIRC urges investors to vote against BP chairman

LONDON, April 7 (Reuters) - Investors should oppose the reappointment of Peter Sutherland as chairman of BP (BP.L) over his role as non-executive director of stricken lender Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L), corporate governance advisors PIRC said on Tuesday.

PIRC, which advises institutional investors with over 1.5 trillion pounds ($2.24 trillion) in assets, drew attention in particular to Sutherland’s role on RBS’s remuneration committee, which approved an enhanced pension for former Chief Executive Fred Goodwin, who presided over RBS’s near-collapse.

“His actions as a non-executive director of Royal Bank of Scotland and as a member of its remuneration committee bring into question his suitability as BP’s chairman,” PIRC said in a statement.

BP spokesman David Nicholas said PIRC’s views were not shared by most BP shareholders.

“It is a great pity that they have chosen to oppose his re-election on grounds that have nothing to do with the company, all the more so because he is retiring and has only agreed to stay on until a successor is found,” he said.

BP holds its annual general meeting on Thursday, April 16.

RBS was saved from collapse by the government injecting tens of billions of pounds and guaranteeing hundreds of billions of loans.

Goodwin was blamed for allowing RBS to overreach itself. His 693,000 pounds per year pension caused public uproar in the UK, prompting the government to ask the former CEO to give it up. He declined.

Sutherland was an RBS director from 2001 to 2009, but left after a boardroom cull two months ago. Former Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS.L) Chairman Tom McKillop resigned as a director of BP, the world’s fourth-largest non-state-controlled oil company by market value said last week.

For a story on investor fury at AGMs, please click on [ID:nL7431668] (Editing by Will Waterman)

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