BP chief executive Tony Hayward on Tata Steel board

Vol 11, PW 3 (14 Jun 07) People & Policy

BP chief executive Tony Hayward could soon be a regular visitor to Mumbai in his new capacity as non-executive director on the board of Indian steel giant Tata Steel, which this year acquired UK-steel company Corus.

“Ratan Tata (chairman of the Tata Group) asked Hayward if he wanted to continue as a non-executive director,â€‌ we hear. “He said he would.

â€‌ Contacted by PETROWATCH, Tata Steel assistant company secretary Anita Kalyani confirms that 50-year old Hayward was formally appointed as one of four ex-Corus non-executive directors to the Tata Steel board on 17th May. Kalyani said Tata Steel holds around eight to 12 board meetings a year, mostly in Mumbai, and that in the financial year ending March 2007 it held 11.

“All directors are required to attend board meetings,â€‌ Kalyani tells this report in a written reply. “But leave of absence is granted by the board to any director who is unable to attend a particular meeting.

â€‌ Even though Hayward is unlikely to make more than four or five trips a year to Mumbai in his new role, that’s still more than former BP chairman John Browne, who only visited India once (in an official capacity) during his whole career. “It’s not unusual for senior BP directors to hold non-executive positions with other companies,â€‌ says a source.

“Steel is one of BP’s biggest costs so it makes perfect sense.â€‌ Hayward’s new role as a Tata Steel non-executive director comes as BP strives to make inroads into India.

How will it make a difference BP’s gas and marketing initiatives here have died, but the company has begun aggressively focusing on E&P, with one CBM block in West Bengal and talks underway with ONGC for an exploration alliance. Also, BP will almost certainly bid for acreage in NELP-VII.

Hayward’s future trips to India on steel business can only help.