Apax backs Lord Browne

Buyout firm Apax Partner shows a more tolerant approach than BP to Lord Browne, who lied about how he met his lover to prevent details of his private life emerging in the UK press.

Apax Partners, the global buyout firm, has resolutely backed the chairman of its advisory board Lord Browne of Madingley, who last night stepped down from his post as chief executive of oil giant BP, following an admission that he lied to the High Court about his private life.

Scotching speculation the issue would have repercussions for his role at the buyout firm, a spokesman for Apax said: “Lord Browne is a man of enormous talent and we look forward to continuing working with him.”

Lord Browne stood down yesterday after losing a long legal battle to prevent details of his relationship with Jeff Chevalier being reported in the media.

 A buyout partner at a rival firm said: “This is a homophobic and political witch hunt and for some of the media to compare lying about where you met your partner to taking cash for questions in parliament as some of the media has done is ridiculous.”

Lord Browne was due to retire from BP after more than a decade in the chief executive officer role in July this year to devote more time to Apax, whose advisory board he joined last autumn. As planned Lord Browne will step up his activity with the firm in September.

Tony Hayward, currently BP’s head of exploration and production, will now replace Browne with immediate effect.

Lord Browne said in his resignation statement to BP: “My initial witness statements… contained an untruthful account about how I first met Jeff. This account, prompted by my embarrassment and shock at the revelations, is a matter of deep regret. It was retracted and corrected. I have apologised unreservedly, and do so again today.”