By Houston Business Journal

Once again, BP Plc is denying reports that embattled Chief Executive Tony Hayward will be stepping down as head of the company.

The Times in London reported that Hayward would resign by October 1 as the company protected itself from takeover attempts from other oil giants such as Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

But BP spokespeople are denouncing the rumor, again, citing the company⿿s announcement of the sale of $7 billion worth of its assets to Houston-based Apache Corp. (NYSE: ASA) as proof that he is ⿿leading the company in a strong and robust way,⿝ according to Reuters.

This isnâ¿¿t the first time BP has battled such rumors.

In late June, the company debunked reports coming out of Russia that Hayward was resigning.

Hayward has received criticism for his handling of the Gulf oil spill, and BPâ¿¿s stock has lost nearly 40 percent of its value since the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig. The rig was operated by Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) and leased by BP.

On July 15, a 75-ton cap halted the flow of oil into the Gulf. The company is working on the completion of a relief well, hopefully a more permanent solution.

So far, BP has spent nearly $4 billion on cleaning up the spill, considered the worst in U.S. history.

The Houston Business Journal is providing continuous coverage of the Gulf oil spill.

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals
Copyright 2010