Environmental groups are calling for BP's removal from stock market indices tracking socially and environmentally responsible companies.
The oil major, which is battling to contain the Gulf of Mexico spill, is listing on the FTSE4Good indices, which select companies based on their progress towards "environmental management", "climate change mitigation and adaptation" and other criteria. BP is also part of the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 index, which lists European companies with "leading environment practices".
Greenpeace said BP's continued inclusion "beggars belief" and called on FTSE Group, the index compiler which also oversees London's FTSE 100 index of leading stocks, to remove the company in light of the Gulf of Mexico spill.
"You have to wonder what a company has to do before FTSE has an ad hoc meeting and removes it, instead of waiting until the next review," Ben Ayliffe, a senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace, said.
Mike Childs, the head of climate change at Friends of the Earth, also argued for BP's exclusion, saying the oil major "should never really have been" included to begin with. "Under the leadership of their former chief executive, John Browne, they were trying to begin to shift to being a company more in favour of renewable power. But when Tony Hayward took over he clearly moved them away from promoting renewables and into deepwater oil extraction, which has been both a disaster for the company and the environment," Mr Childs said.
FTSE said an independent committee revisits the make-up of the FTSE4Good indices twice a year and will be looking at the Gulf of Mexico spill alongside BP's compliance with the inclusion criteria in time for the next review in September. The index compiler added that, so far, a constituent had never been removed on an ad hoc basis.
The calls follow the decision by Dow Jones Indexes, the American index compiler, and SAM, an investment group, to remove BP from the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes (DJSI). "The extent of the oil spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and its foreseeable long-term effects on the environment and the local population – in addition to the economic effects and the long-term damage to the reputation of the company – were included in the analysis leading up to BP's removal," DJSI said in a statement announcing BP's exclusion last week.
Barrick Gold and Essar Energy to join blue chips
Commodity focused stocks are expected to tighten their grip on the FTSE 100 when the results of the latest index reshuffle are announced after the end of business tonight. Essar Energy, the Indian power, oil and gas giant which made its market debut in May, and African Barrick Gold, the African arm of the world's largest gold miner, are expected to join the ranks of the blue chips, supplementing an already sizeable and heavily weighted contingent of mining, oil and gas, and power companies.
London Stock Exchange, which posted a 19 drop in full-year earnings in May, and which only returned to the blue-chip index in June last year, is expected to be relegated to the junior FTSE 250 index. The travel group Thomas Cook is also seen as a candidate for demotion.
The reshuffle, which encompasses the FTSE 100, the FTSE 250 and the FTSE All Share indices, is based on figures from the close of business last night, and approved changes will take effect following the end of play on 18 June.
The inclusion of Essar and African Barrick Gold would be another marker in the internationalisation of the FTSE 100, which is often more responsive to movements on the commodity markets than to news on the UK economy.