Tony The Tiger Roars Again

Todd Shriber
 
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There is the expression about the cat with nine lives and then there is the adage about he who laughs last always laughs best. Welcome to the world of Tony Hayward, the former embattled CEO of BP. He of public relations gaffes and verbal faux pas, cast aside in the aftermath of the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

As followers of the oil industry know, Hayward was made to be something of a fall guy or scapegoat for the events that transpired in the Gulf last year. Neither his mouth (no one is likely to forget the ''I want my life back'' line) nor his choice in vacation (he went sailing for a few days while oil was still gushing from the Macondo well) earned him any favor with the general public and the wrath he incurred was well deserved.

While Hayward is by no means a victim, his ouster from BP (BP) was predictable and akin to a sports franchise firing the coach for the players' incompetence. It is an easy move to make, but rarely yields better results. That much has been made clear with BP's struggles under Hayward's replacement, Bob Dudley, whose is nearly as gaffe-prone as his predecessor. Dudley's fumbles happen in Russia, whereas Hayward's occurred in the U.S. That may be the biggest difference.

As for Hayward, he is much like the cat with nine lives. In fact, he is much like any cat because he certainly has landed on his feet as the Wall Street Journal puts it. Post-BP life has been quite kind to Hayward. After taking a few months to mull various offers for employment, and there were no shortage of those, Hayward settled in as the head of Vallares Plc.

That might not sound like much, but Vallares is merging with Turkey's Genel Energy International. That company is the largest producer in Iraq's oil-rich Kurdistan region, according to the Journal. The combined company will have a market capitalization of around $4 billion and hopes to be included on the FTSE 100 index early next year, the Journal reports.

The new company could also become the third-largest independent oil and gas company listed in the U.K. and Hayward's stake could be worth up to $23 million. Not bad for a guy that more than a few pundits thought would not have much of a career after the Gulf spill.

Hayward has a couple of other things going on these days besides Vallares, which is something of a sophisticated shell company, but a shell company nonetheless. Oddly enough, he is on the board of TNK-BP, BP's joint Russian venture and ever-evolving soap opera. He also has a nonexecutive role with newly public commodities trading giant Glencore. In other words, Hayward is probably collecting checks from Glencore for not doing much.

Add to that, Hayward advises AEA Investors LLC, a New York-based private-equity firm that manages $5 billion in investments, and Numis Securities Ltd., a London investment bank, on energy companies, Bloomberg reported.

These are some pretty sweet gigs if you can get them. Still, life is not all roses for Hayward. He is directly named as a defendant in a couple of spill-related suits and his reputation here in the U.S. is nowhere rehabilitated. It is doubtful it ever will be. Only Hayward knows if he cares about such matters, but at this point, it looks he is getting his life back. Whether or not he deserves that is up for debate.

Todd Shriber

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