BP chairman faces vote amid RBS controversy

BP chairman faces vote amid RBS controversy

The spectre of Royal Bank of Scotland will haunt BP today as its chairman faces a shareholder vote amid claims his role at the bank raises doubt over his suitability.

Peter Sutherland, who is due to be re-elected by investors at the British oil firm's annual general meeting today, has been accused by consultant PIRC of not being up to the job because of his position as a non-executive director of RBS.

Former RBS chairman Tom McKillop will formally step down from the oil company's board at the meeting after resigning earlier this month.

Both men have come under fire in the aftermath of the bank's taxpayer bailout and were caught up with the row over former RBS chief executive Fred Goodwin's £703,000 (€798,060) pension.

Sutherland held his position at the bank from 2001 to February this year and sat on the remuneration committee.

This prompted PIRC - whose clients include institutional investors with about £1 trillion (€1.13 trillion) in assets under management - to call on shareholders to vote against his reappointment.

It also recommended shareholders vote against BP's remuneration report for senior directors, saying that last year's pay rises were "not clearly justified" although it welcomed the oil major's decision to freeze salaries.

Sutherland, who earned £102,000 (€115,733) from RBS in 2008, left the bank's board after a cull of non-executive directors. He was paid £600,000 (€680,783) as chairman of BP last year, but is due to retire and has only agreed to stay on until a successor can be appointed.

BP was helped to record profits last year by soaring crude oil prices and a recovery in the group's operating performance.

The firm posted a 39% increase in annual profits to a record $25.6bn (€29bn). But shareholders have expressed nervousness over a 24% fall in fourth-quarter profits to $2.6bn (€2.95bn) as the recession hit world demand.

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