Tony Hayward’s appointment as interim chairman of Glencore Xstrata, the world’s fourth-largest mining company, completes his rehabilitation—the 56-year-old oilman, ousted and humiliated as head of BP three years ago, is back as one of the world’s major industrial executives.
Hayward was forced out of BP in 2010 as a scapegoat for the disastrous Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which has cost the company billions of dollars in payments and tarnished its reputation. He was denigrated for how he expressed his desire to get the oil spill behind him: “I’d like my life back,” he told a television interviewer.
Since then, Hayward has spent most of his time pioneering oil drilling in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Meanwhile, however, he has also been a senior independent director at Glencore, which went public in 2011. Glencore Xstrata held its inaugural shareholder meeting today, and John Bond, the former head of Vodafone, indicated he lacked the votes to be re-elected as chairman. Hayward will take his place.
It is not clear whether Hayward will be kept on. But the board’s willingness to appoint him to job at this symbolically important juncture in the merged company demonstrates confidence that his reputation will help the mining company’s image.