BP: Back from the brink

BBC business editor Robert Peston on the oil giant's thumping loss

It is very difficult to describe a $17bn loss for three months of trading as a sparkling performance.

But for BP it could have been a lot worse - in that its estimate of the cost of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of $32.2bn was less than some analysts have feared BP would end up paying for the clear up, compensation to those damaged and fines - and that's because BP believes that it will not be found guilty of gross negligence in relation to the disaster.

That said, in an interview with me, the chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said there was no 100% certainty the final bill for the spill wouldn't be higher.

BP will pay for all this by selling assets worth $30bn - which Mr Svanberg insisted would not eat into the core of the business.

He also praised the long record at BP of the outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward, while saying that Mr Hayward was not the right man to lead the rebuilding of the business.

He defended the financial settlement with Mr Hayward - under which Mr Hayward will receive a one-off payment of over £1m and a £600,000 pension for life from the age of 55 - as no more Mr Hayward's contractual due.

You can keep up with the latest from business editor Robert Peston by visiting his blog on the BBC News website.

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