Friday, June 11, 2010

The "Can't Do" Nation - The Empire Strikes Back

Full marks to John Napier, the chairman of the insurer RSA, who wrote an open letter to President Barack Obama accusing him of being anti-British and "prejudicial and personal" in his dealings with BP.

The Times quotes the letter:

"Your comments towards BP and its CEO as reported here are coming across as somewhat prejudicial and personal. There is no doubt that BP, as a UK plc, is totally committed to do everything possible to contain the oil leak and meet all its obligations in the USA.

The existing CEO is the best person to deliver that effort and has made that personal commitment and made himself available in the USA. In your words, ‘he has taken the heat' and not hidden in his office. The real response has been total. You could argue a poor PR performance, but BP are not alone in that. There is a sense here that these attacks are being made because BP is British. If you compare the damage inflicted on the economies of the Western world by polluted securities from the irresponsible, unchecked greed and avarice of leading USA international banks, there has not been the same personalised response in or from countries beyond the US. Perhaps a case of double standards?

Deep-sea oil exploration was pushed forward as part of a USA oil security strategy, as have a number of foreign policy initiatives where we are standing shoulder to shoulder.

The President would do well to remember that BP employs far more US personnel than British, and 40% of BP's shares are held by US citizens. In the event that the President's ongoing vitriol pushes BP over the edge, there will be many US victims of its demise.

The demise of BP would send shock waves through the City of London and cause a financial crisis in the UK that would reignite the world's recent financial version of the "oil spill".

Can America really afford to start that fire again?

Oh, and by the way, re the knee jerk rantings to BP demanding that it holds back its dividend; why are these same rantings not being made towards Transco (an American company that has some part to play in all of this), which has announced that it will be paying a $1BN dividend?

As noted yesterday, what goes around comes around!

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