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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
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

Sales Executive - Central London /Home working - £20K-£40K

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Sales Executive - Ce...

HR Advisor - 6 months FTC Wimbledon, SW London

£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - 6 Months Fix...

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor