BP's 'scapegoat' strikes it rich with Rothschild & Co
Year on from oil spill, ex-boss is in the money

The Independent | April 17, 2011
By Nalini Sivathasan

As the first anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster approaches, the former BP boss Tony Hayward could be forgiven for wishing to see the back of 12 months in which he was dubbed America's "most hated" for his mishandling of the event.

Yet the year since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 workers and injuring scores more, and causing an environmentally catastrophic oil spill, is proving to be more of an annus mirabilis.

Mr Hayward, who described himself as BP's "sacrificial lamb", could have sat back and enjoyed the benefits of the £1m payout and £10m pension pot awarded him on departing BP, together with the $150,000 (£91,000) he is paid to sit on the board of TNK-BP, its joint venture with Russia's third largest oil company. Instead, he is discussing a new financial enterprise with the multimillionaire Nat Rothschild that could see him rake in millions.

BP's former chief executive was at the epicentre of the maelstrom that engulfed the oil giant. Yet while many of those communities affected by the Deepwater spill are still fighting to get their lives back on track, Mr Hayward is flourishing. On leaving BP, many expected him to retire to lick his wounds to his 16th-century house in Sevenoaks, Kent, with his wife, Maureen, and his two children. He is, however, enjoying a Lazarus-like career resurrection.

Mr Rothschild, famous for his lavish hospitality, is nothing if not well connected. This proved counterproductive when he found himself unwittingly at the heart of a row between his friend Lord Mandelson and George Osborne, the Chancellor. It was claimed that Mr Osborne attempted to solicit a donation to the Tory party from the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska at one of his parties, although Mr Osborne denied this. Mr Rothschild has also been linked to Saif Gaddafi, son of the Libyan dictator. Mr Rothschild is investing heavily in energy and commodities in the Far East.

Similarly Mr Hayward, who set up his own energy advisory business, 3E Capital, last October, has reportedly been discussing new ventures with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and the wife of the Singapore Prime Minister, Ho Ching, who runs Temasek Holdings, one of the most powerful sovereign wealth funds in the world.

Last week, also saw Mr Hayward take a giant step to redemption when he landed the rewarding role of senior independent director of soon-to-be-floated commodities giant Glencore, which is expected to net him more than £100,000, plus expenses.

The rebranding isn't confined to business. Although the 53-year-old remains a West Ham fan, he has abandoned his other favourite pastime yachting. His love of boats attracted bad PR when he was seen sailing in the Solent at the height of the oil spill disaster. Recently, he has opted for mountain climbing, summitting Mount Kilimanjaro to raise £50,000 for charity. Meanwhile, his wife, a geologist and ex-BP employee, is reportedly writing a book in defence of her husband.

Yet as Mr Hayward prepares to return to the limelight, thick coatings of oil are being found on the bottom of the ocean and wildlife is still washing up on beaches. It may take a lot longer for the angry residents of the Texas Gulf coast to forget his past.