Tony Hayward Gets His Life Back

As chief executive officer of BP (BP), Tony Hayward presided over the worst oil spill in U.S. history, which led the company to take $41 billion in charges. Now he's preparing to immerse himself in the energy industry again.

Hayward stepped down as BP's CEO on Oct.1 , 2010, after being roundly attacked for comments he made the previous spring, as the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico was still spewing oil. "No one wants this thing over more than I do," he said. "You know, I would like my life back." The N.Y. Daily News called Hayward "the most hated—and the most clueless—man in America."

That was not to be his last turn running an energy company. Hayward, 54, and financier Nathaniel Rothschild, 39, are launching a new company, Vallares, to acquire a stake in an oil or gas field. They are modelling the company on Vallar, a company Rothschild founded in 2010. Rothschild used Vallar, which trades on the London Stock Exchange, to acquire stakes in two Indonesian coal mining companies for $3 billion in cash and shares in November.

Credit Suisse (CS) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) are advising Hayward on an initial public offering for Vallares. Hayward hopes to raise at least £1 billion ($1.6 billion), according to three people with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified because the plans are not public. The offering could take place in late June or July, according to one of the people.

"I'm not sure Tony Hayward brings much credibility to a project like this," says Colin McLean, CEO of SVM Asset Management in Edinburgh, noting that starting a company is different from running an established giant. Admirers say Hayward's contacts, experience, and expertise as a geologist still offer lots of value. "He brings tremendous insight and information," says Fadel Gheit, an oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York. "I would invest my own money with him."

Hayward and Rothschild recently sounded out investors in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, the U.S., and the U.K. They received expressions of interest for the full $1.6 billion they want to raise, people with knowledge of the matter say.

Despite his record at BP, Hayward is hardly an industry pariah—in fact, he still has a job at BP. After he stepped down, the company appointed him to the board of TNK-BP, its joint venture with three Russian oligarchs. He also serves on the board of Glencore International, the Swiss commodities trader founded by Marc Rich. According to a company spokesman, Hayward was brought in as an expert on the oil industry in time for the initial public offering on May 19 that valued the company at $59 billion.

The bottom line: Less than a year after resigning as CEO of BP, Hayward is planning to raise $1.6 billion for a company that will invest in the oil industry.

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