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Business Comment

James Ashton: No wonder Tony Hayward doesn't want to stay on

Outlook Now his business is concentrated about as far from Britain as you can get, Tony Hayward is ideally placed to comment on our looming energy crisis. A manifesto published by the former BP boss the other day urged the Government not to turn its back on fossil fuels, to build our own nuclear power stations instead of hoping the French will do it for us and to slash subsidies for on and offshore windpower. Sounds easy.

Easier still has been how Mr Hayward and former Goldman Sachs banker Julian Metherell have navigated political tensions in Kurdistan to get Genel Energy, the region's largest independent oil producer, motoring.

In addition to three new discoveries in three months, investors are warming to the potential of assets in Morocco and Malta. With a further £570m of cash to play with, expect more acquisitions, probably further east – unless one of the multinationals that have moved into the region gobble it up first.

Figures yesterday propelled Genel shares to within a whisker of the £10 they raised funds at two years ago. Compare its performance with that of Glencore, now Glencore Xstrata, which floated around the same time and has been hobbled by tumbling commodity prices, and it isn't hard to see why Mr Hayward only wants to be stand-in chairman of the trading giant until he can find someone else to do the job permanently.