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BP Plc (BP) - Get BP Plc Report shares ticked higher in London Friday, outpacing the broader FTSE 100 benchmark, after the company said long-serving CEO Bob Dudley will step down next year to make way for incoming boss Bernard Looney.

Dudley, 64, will retire next year, and leave his post on the board of directors, after a near-decade stint at the helm of the oil major following the fatal Deepwarter Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 that killed 11 workers and triggered the largest man-made environmental disaster in U.S. history. 

The American-born Dudley replaced Tony Hayward in the wake of the Deepwater explosion, which cost the group more than $60 in fines, litigation and penalties that nearly tipped it into bankruptcy. Since then, an aggressive series of asset sales, as well as a push into shale exploration and production in the Permian basin, have taken added more than 50% to the company's $122 billion in market value.

"It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve this company and work in this industry for the past four decades," Dudley said in a statement published Friday. "I have worked with so many committed people from all over the world - both inside and outside BP - and I am enormously proud of all the things we have achieved together to provide energy for the world.

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"Bernard is a terrific choice to lead the company next. He knows BP and our industry as well as anyone but is creative and not bound by traditional ways of working," Dudley added. "I have no doubt that he will thoughtfully lead BP through the transition to a low carbon future."

BP shares were marked 19% higher by late-day trading in London following the company's confirmation of Dudley's departure and changing hands at £4.94 each, a move that erases most of the stock's year-to-date decline.

Looney, 49, who has lead the group's oil and gas production business since 2016, will take over from Dudley in February of next year, following publications of the company's fourth quarter earnings.

"Our company has amazing people, tremendous assets, and a set of core values that guide our actions, but most of all we have a desire to be better," Looney said. "I look forward to tapping into that desire and building on the strong foundation that Bob has built as we meet society's demand for cleaner, better energy."