David Prosser: Hayward makes his move up the risk and reward curve


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The Independent Online

Outlook Let us say this for Tony Hayward: his brush with notoriety during the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico appears not to have turned him into a dullard determined to play it safe for the rest of his business career. Indeed, the risks implicit in his new venture, Vallares, following its merger with Turkey's Genel Energy, make BP look like a walk in the park.

There's the obvious difficulty of realising the potential of Genel's undeniably exciting prospects in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, given the area's recent geopolitical history. And then there are matters of corporate governance to consider at a company which may become a FTSE 100 constituent: some of Mr Hayward's new colleagues will, to say the least, raise a few eyebrows.

For example, there is Mehmet Sepil, the chief executive of Genel, who will be staying with the company but not serving on its board. One might think it odd that Mr Sepil is not taking up a board position – he'll be president instead – but there is the small matter of his run-in last year with the Financial Services Authority. It fined him almost £1m for market abuse after he bought shares in Heritage Oil before the public release of an upbeat drilling report.

Then there is Mehmet Karamehmet, the Turkish billionaire who chairs the company that owns Genel. He won't be on the new company's board either – though his daughter will serve as a non-executive director – not least because he is banned from travelling while he continues to appeal against an 11-year jail sentence he received last year over loans made by a bank he once owned.

None of which is to say these associations should necessarily trouble Mr Hayward's investors. It is plain, though, that such issues have been considered: although Genel will in effect have 50 per cent of the merged company, its shareholders' voting rights will be limited to 30 per cent. This iscertainly going to be a company to watch with bated breath – and Mr Hayward may well have to earn every penny of the handsome rewards (more handsome than at BP) that he is set to net.