June 9, 2010 / 3:16 AM / 9 years ago

BP shareholders would back CEO more than chairman: report

LONDON (Reuters) - BP Plc shareholders would prefer to sacrifice the company’s Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg rather than the CEO over the ongoing oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, the Times reported in its Wednesday edition.

BP’s Chief Executive Tony Hayward has faced intense criticism in the U.S. with President Barrack Obama saying on Tuesday he wanted to know “whose ass to kick” over the massive April 20 oil spill, an ecological and economical catastrophe.

Citing an unnamed person close to the British company, the Times said shareholders had more confidence in Hayward’s ability to supervise BP’s response to the crisis than Svanberg, who has been largely invisible.

“The mood within the company and among shareholders is clear — they are supportive of Tony, who they feel has done his best in a very bad situation, but they are unimpressed by Svanberg,” the Times reported the person as saying.

A BP spokesman dismissed the claims former Ericsson boss Svanberg, who took over the role of chairman in January, would consider stepping down.

“The chairman enjoys a fantastic relationship with the board and the senior executives and he continues to play a vital role in supporting Tony Hayward who is leading the oil spill response,” the spokesman said.

Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Dhara Ranasinghe

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