Former BP Boss Won't Wield Much Power at Glencore Xstrata

Tony Hayward is now interim chairman of Glencore Xstrata but Morningstar analysts say he's no match for CEO Glasenberg

Holly Cook 16 May, 2013 | 5:00PM
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The comeback of Tony Hayward, formerly of BP (BP.) ‘fame’, continued this week when he was named as the interim chairman of the newly-combined commodities giant Glencore Xstrata (GLEN), following the ousting of Sir John Bond by shareholders. 

Shares in the commodities trader, which finally completed its merger with diversified miner Xstrata earlier this month, ticked up 1.0% on Thursday's AGM news. Sir Bond, who had already announced his intention to step down in a few months’ time, was voted out of the role of chairman by 80.85% of votes at the combined firm’s first AGM, which took place on Wednesday in Switzerland. 

Sir Bond’s loss of support was triggered in part by his agreeing excessive payments for executives as part of the merger process, and also by a major Xstrata shareholder managing to secure a favourable share-swap offer from Glencore when it threatened to vote against the original, less favourable, offer. 

Hayward, meanwhile, became a household name as CEO of BP when the Macondo oil well exploded, killing 11 men and leaking an estimated four million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 12 weeks. The disaster forced his resignation but he has since secured several notable positions and currently holds the chief executive position at Genel Energy (GENL) as well as being an independent director on the Glencore Xstrata board.

“I think Haywood has really done a good job at rehabbing his image since Macondo,” says Morningstar analyst Stephen Ellis. “He took a sizable career risk with Genel Energy and it seems to be paying off in spades. Genel’s success has really helped Haywood’s image become one of a more skilled oil and gas executive versus the troubled image he had after Macondo,” Ellis adds. 

Hayward will hold the post as the board continues to search for a new chairman, marking another step on the career ladder. But Morningstar analyst Daniel Rohr, who covers Glencore Xstrata, said he doubts Hayward will have much leeway in the interim role. 

“To me, Hayward and whoever they select as the permanent chairman is likely to wield dramatically less power than most in such a role,” Rohr says. “Fundamentally, it’s difficult to assert your authority over someone who is, in a matter of speaking, your biggest boss, but that’s going to be the case when the CEO [Ivan Glasenberg] is the firm’s largest shareholder,” Rohr adds. 

Whoever they pick, Rohr expects it will be Glasenberg that truly runs the show. “Anyone tempted to turn the tables on him is likely to be put off by the body count of executives that littered Glasenberg’s path to the top in the past several months...Don’t get in his way!”

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security NamePriceChange (%)Morningstar
BP PLC399.15 GBX1.37Rating
Glencore PLC408.30 GBX-0.73Rating

About Author

Holly Cook

Holly Cook  is Manager, Morningstar EMEA Websites