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The Business On... Bob Dudley, chief executive, BP


Bob Dudley is renowned within BP for remaining cool in a crisis

Bob Dudley is renowned within BP for remaining cool in a crisis

Bob Dudley is renowned within BP for remaining cool in a crisis

The man steering BP back from the brink?

That's right. Mr Dudley took over from Tony Hayward in the autumn, when he felt obliged to step down following the Deepwater Horizon scandal.

So how’s the new man doing?

He's hit a bit of a snag. Earlier this year, Mr Dudley brokered a big deal between BP and Russia's Rosneft, involving the exchange of shares in the two companies plus an exploration plan for the Arctic Ocean.

It was bold and well received — until investors in TNK-BP, BP's existing joint venture in Russia, pointed out their vehicle had first right of refusal on any new initiatives by the British company in the country. Now they've blocked the deal in the courts.

How's Mr Dudley taken that?

BP says it is trying to resolve the matter. But many shareholders are less than happy.

Still, Russia is a tricky place to do business by all accounts?

Maybe so, but if anyone should understand the sensitivities it is Mr Dudley.

He used to run TNK-BP, so he was presumably aware of the agreement that is at the centre of the dispute.

And he is well aware of the fact that the venture's shareholders are not the types to roll over and have their tummies tickled. Mr Dudley was forced to quit Russia for a secret location when BP last fell out with TNK-BP.

What will Mr Dudley do now?

There are various options, though none of them are without cost or potential political problems.

But don't expect him to panic — he's renowned for being cool in a crisis and is unlikely to throw a tantrum. Mr Hayward once described his successor as “the management team's foreign secretary”. His diplomatic skills are certainly going to be needed now.

What is the man’s background?

Born in New York, he's the son of a naval officer and looked set for a similar career himself before a shoulder injury intervened. He took engineering and management degrees instead and joined Amoco in 1979. He arrived at BP 20 years later when the British company bought its US rival. At only 55, he has time to right the BP ship.