BP Puts Foot in Mouth Again With “Small People” Comment; Gets it Out by Cutting Shareholder Dividends


Today BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, who, in fairness, is Swedish-born and perhaps less familiar with the eccentricities of American speech, had his own oops-a-daisy Tony Hayward moment. In a press conference, Svanberg said that President Obama “is frustrated because he cares about the small people. And we care about the small people. I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are really companies that don’t care, but that is not the case in BP, we care about the small people.”

Oh BP, when will you learn? It’s not small people, it’s Little People! Jeez.

Talk, of course, is cheap, no matter how the words come out. But BP does a solid to the public (if not their shareholders) by also announcing that the company won’t be paying dividends to stockholders for the remainder of 2010 — a pretty major move that’s sure to rankle investors. They’ll also reduce their investment program and sell $10 billion of assets to fund the planned $20 billion fund to pay for the spill. Baby steps.