BP CEO Tony Hayward testifies about the company's oil spill to a legislative committee in Washington, on June 17. Hayward has for months been the public face of the spill. ((Kevin Lamarque/Reuters))

Tony Hayward will step down as BP's chief executive in October and be offered a job with the company's joint venture in Russia, a person familiar with the matter said Monday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement has not been made by the British company's board, which was meeting Monday in London to decide Hayward's fate after his much-criticized handling of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.


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The decision is the board's to make, and it was unclear if it had formally done so.

It's not yet clear what Hayward's role will be with TNK-BP. He left the board meeting Monday without speaking to reporters, climbing into a silver Lexus that sped off.

BP owns half of the oil firm, which is Russia's third-largest.

The BBC, quoting a BP official, reported that Hayward would be offered  a non-executive position on the board of TNK-BP.

The joint venture was once run by American Bob Dudley, now the odds-on favourite to replace Hayward as BP CEO. After Hayward made a series of missteps, including telling reporters he wanted his life back as Gulf residents struggled to deal with the spill, Dudley took over as BP's point man in dealing with it. He was in London Monday with other board members.


Bob Dudley, shown on May 6, is currently BP's managing director. He has figured prominently in speculation about Hayward's likely successor. ((Adam Hunger/Reuters))

Hayward was called back to London a month ago after a bruising encounter with a Congressional committee and has since kept a low profile.

"We're getting to the end of the situation," said David Battersby at Redmayne Bentley Stockbrokers. "To draw a line under it, they need a new chief executive."

BP shares rise

In New York, BP shares rose almost five per cent Monday as the stock market anticipated a formal announcement about Hayward. It was his leadership of the company during the crisis that attracted a storm of criticism. Shares of BP PLC rose $1.79 US, or 4.9 per cent, to close at $38.65 US in New York trading. BP shares closed up 4.6 per cent Monday at 416.95 pence in London.

The BP board would have to approve a change in company leadership, and there is persistent speculation that chairman Karl-Henric Svanberg, who moved into the post on Jan. 1, is also likely to lose his job later this year.

The one-day board meeting comes a day before BP announces earnings for the second quarter. That report is expected to include preliminary provisions for the cost of the Gulf disaster, with analysts saying that could be as high as $30 billion US.