Mark Leftly: Will Tony Hayward be given his old life back – to chair Glencore Xstrata?

Outlook It was an astute question, but Ivan Glasenberg doesn't slip up easily. More importantly, the billionaire South African usually gets what he wants and we now have a good idea of what – or who – his latest target might be.

It is worth reading quite a lot into the Glencore Xstrata chief executive's response at a media call yesterday, when asked whether Tony Hayward could take over as chairman of the mining giant on a permanent basis: "Of course he's a candidate."

Mr Hayward is the former BP boss who infamously –not to mention insensitively – sighed that he would "like my life back" in 2010 during the Gulf of Mexico oil-rig disaster that killed 11 people.

Having left the oil major shortly afterwards, Mr Hayward has enjoyed a surprisingly swift rehabilitation and in May agreed to be Glencore Xstrata's chairman on an interim basis. Mr Glasenberg had just achieved his grand ambition of getting his hands back on Xstrata, which Glencore had allowed to spin-out of its clutches over a decade earlier only to become one of the FTSE 100's great success stories of the Noughties.

Having finally created the world's fourth biggest miner, an empire that trades wheat and sugar as well as producing copper and zinc, Mr Glasenberg suffered a rare setback when a huge shareholder revolt prevented Sir John Bond becoming chairman of the combined group. He had been chairman at Xstrata, whose shareholders remained angry at how the former HSBC banker had botched negotiations over eye-wateringly lucrative retention payments for their company's senior management.

Mr Hayward agreed to step in and has been helping in the hunt for a long-term chairman. Although Mr Hayward soon returned to corporate life, even this temporary role is far more high profile than his position as chief executive at Genel Energy, the Kurdistan-focused oil group he joined after leaving BP.

Yet those seemingly in the know argue that Mr Hayward is happier navigating the choppy political waters of northern Iraq – and finding the extraordinary reservoirs of black gold beneath its battle-scarred surface – than returning to the limelight at Glencore Xstrata. Being the chairman of a company that eats billion-dollar deals for breakfast and that faces a US lawsuit alleging that it artificially inflates aluminium prices is a sure fire way of not getting your life back.

But Glencore Xstrata's investors are fretting over why the search for a permanent replacement is taking so long. "We want to do [the selection process] properly," Mr Glasenberg argued yesterday. "We don't want to rush it."

A fair answer. But it would also have been fair enough if he had simply said he couldn't talk about the process, when asked about Mr Hayward.

Maybe this was just a slip of the tongue that meant little more than to praise a man who has helped stabilise a group after more than a year of complicated, occasionally fraught merger-cum-takeover negotiations.

More likely, though, Mr Glasenberg was looking to heap some public pressure on Mr Hayward to take the job. Mr Hayward might have screwed-up towards the end of his time at BP, but he has a thick contacts book, and surely understands the terrain where business meets international politics as well as anyone out there.

No wonder Glencore Xstrata, with its operations in more than 50 countries and in excess of 150 sites from metallurgical operations to farms to offshore oilfields, seems like such an obvious fit for a man who, three years ago, was viewed as a pariah in the business world.

The smart money probably still says that Mr Hayward shies away from the spotlight. But it must surely be tempting to complete the comeback and take on a job that will help him regain much of the respect that he ultimately lost at BP.

And Mr Glasenberg is nothing if not patient. Expect him to keep chipping away at any crack he sees in Mr Hayward's resolve to keep hold of his life.

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people'Bring It On' actress says her legal team will combat the 'vultures'
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Dennis Rodman has confirmed he is not going to the Middle East to 'talk to with the leaders of Isis' as claimed in a recent satirical report
people
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam