Thursday, July 1, 2010

PEU to Head WhiteHall Reform

Lord John Browne of Madingley will oversee a 25% cut in British government spending as "lead non-executive director." Browne is the ex-CEO of BP, where similar budget cuts resulted in the 2005 Texas City Refinery explosion (which killed 15 workers) and a 2006 leak in BP's Alaska oil pipeline.

Currently, Browne is a private equity underwriter (PEU) His working title is Managing Director for The Carlyle Group's joint venture energy partner, Riverstone Holdings. Browne's British PEU appointment follows three American high profile commission chairs:

1. Erskine Bowles - Deficit Commission, PEU with Carousel Capital

2. William Reilly - Oil Spew Commission, PEU with TPG

3. Fred Malek - Virginia's Government Reform Commission, PEU with Thayer Capital
Lord Browne, 62, whose new role is unpaid, said:
'This is a role within government but also independent of it. Its purpose is to assist in the delivery of policy using relevant experience from business.

Browne's fuzzy role is accentuated by a gray-shaded title, lead non-executive director. Lord Browne added:

'There is a great need for the best of the business community to be involved during these challenging times for the UK.'


Some in Whitehall could take umbrage at being advised on cost cutting by a man whose lavish private office at BP included furniture designed by Viscount Linley.

Echoes of John Thain and his $35,000 toilet cabinet. FT added:

Executives close to Lord Browne claimed Mr Cameron delayed naming him as the government's "lead nonexecutive director" until after last weekend's G20 summit in Toronto to avoid upsetting US president Barack Obama.

Downing Street denied the claims, but Lord Browne's appointment - approved by Mr Cameron several weeks ago - has been on hold for weeks while his former company has struggled to contain the oil spill in the Gulf of -Mexico.

Francis Maude, Cabinet Office minister, said the former BP chief would advise the government on recruiting senior business figures to serve as non-executive directors on beefed-up boards, overseeing each Whitehall department.

Expect job cuts to fund the furniture budget and rich lifestyles of Browne's friends. They may serve for "free," but PEU's have divisions seeking profitable government business.

As for Browne's history with cost cutting, peruse his Texas City refinery explosion deposition. Competence is not a requirement, only club membership, which Browne has in spades.

The irony of personally opulent Lord Browne cutting jobs for small people is nearly as rich as his work for the "Lib-Con" coalition. It smells like PEU.