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The Baker report into BP’s safety standards in the US is now out. BP says it will implement the report’s recommendations. The report runs to 374 pages, so we’re still going through it. Here are some highlights so far:
“The Panel believes that BP has not provided effective process safety leadership and has not adequately established process safety as a core value across all its five U.S. refineries. While BP has an aspirational goal of “no accidents, no harm to people,” BP has not provided effective leadership in making certain its management and U.S. refining workforce understand what is expected of them regarding process safety performance.”
“BP has not always ensured that it identified and provided the resources required for strong process safety performance at its U.S. refineries.”
“The Panel also found that BP did not effectively incorporate process safety into management decision-making.”
“Neither BP’s executive management nor its refining line management has ensured the implementation of an integrated, comprehensive, and effective process safety management system.”
It is not clear yet whether other executives will follow Lord Browne out the door. So far, the bloggers have been fairly quiet about Browne’s departure.
“It was [...] under his leadership that BP pioneered the ‘open innovation’ model of technology development, funding massive amounts of research at university R&D centers instead of in internal R&D centers,” writes Neal Dikeman on cleantechblog.com. “And for the cleantech world, it was under Browne’s leadership that BP virtually defined its technology strategy in terms of a ‘low-carbon’ future.”
“The question surrounding Browne is whether he will be able to recover his tarnished reputation now that his legacy is under scrutiny and damaged,” says, not very controversially, Leslie Gaines-Ross at reputationxchange.blogspot.com.
And, rather more surprisingly, Jon C. Ogg at 247wallst.com, says: “Of course traders and M&A rumor mongers are taking the opportunity to say this could imply a merger between BP and perhaps Royal Dutch Shell.”
The other person, we learned this morning, who is leaving his post this summer will be John Tiner. The chief executive of the FSA wants a big job in the private sector, just like so many of the people the regulator wishes it could attract. We’ll take a good look at his record this afternoon. By the time he goes in July he will have done well to make the FSA less bureaucratic, but he has benefited from extraordinarily benign markets. His successor may have a tougher time. No news on who that might be yet.
Elsewhere, the top story so far is the arrest in the US of two founders and former directors of Neteller, the online payment company to the likes of 888 Holdings and PartyGaming. Shares in the company, once a big retail punters’ stock, have been suspended while Neteller works out what is going on. Neither Stephen Lawrence, former chief executive and chairman, and John Lefebvre, who stepped down as a non-executive director in December 2005, have any operational role at Neteller any more but they remain two of its largest shareholders. There is an amusing profile of Lefebvre on the University of Calgary website. “Here’s a man embodying the spirit of a generation,” it says. “One moment, he’s speaking intensely about eradicating political global tyranny, and in the next, slipping on his gumboots to stand ankle-deep in the Pacific Ocean and strum the mandolin; one moment plotting to save old-growth forest in China from clear cutting loggers, and in the next, whimsically tinkling “M-i-c … k-e-y, M-o-u-s-e” on a William Knabe & Co. piano, circa 1904.”
Sharply increased sales of organic and premium range food at Tesco helped like-for-like sales excluding petrol rose by 5.9 per cent in the six weeks to January 6, slightly ahead of the growth rate reported in the third quarter. Online sales grew 30 per cent, which is astonishing. Bizarrely, Tesco seems to have been selling loads of cashmere sweaters. M&S said the same thing. What is it about cashmere at the moment?
Among the retailers’ Christmas trading statements Debenhams was weak and Philip Dorgan at Panmure says the best years are behind it (shares off 5 per cent). Burberry, like many of the luxury retailers this year, looks much stronger (like-for-likes up 13 per cent). Laura Ashley expects full-year profits to beat forecasts and Ted Baker looks strong too.
For those who didn’t get our third edition this morning, here is a piece by Peter Thal Larsen, our banking editor, which you might have missed but which is quite a significant City story:
“Goldman Sachs has moved Driss Ben-Brahim, one of its most senior London-based proprietary traders, into a management job after a year in which his trading performance was mixed.
Mr Ben-Brahim, a senior foreign exchange trader who is thought to have been among the bank’s most highly paid executives in past years, will take charge of foreign exchange sales and trading within emerging markets, people familiar with the matter said.
The move shifts a trader whose rise exemplifies the changing nature of the financial markets into a management role where he will be mainly responsible for developing Goldman’s business with the institutional investors and hedge funds that are driving the increased volume on the foreign exchange markets.
Mr Ben-Brahim, who was promoted to Goldman’s lucrative partnership pool in 2004, is one of the new breed of traders whose success in making proprietary bets with the bank’s capital helped propel Goldman to record revenues last year.
Goldman’s senior management is now dominated by executives who have spent most of their careers on the trading, rather than the advisory, side.”