Tony Hayward

John Gapper

Richard Lambert’s piece on Vallares and the reputation arbitrage that the £1.3bn investment vehicle is pulling off by listing on the FTSE 100 is well worth reading. It raises serious questions about how London financiers are exploiting index funds.

As Sir Richard, a former editor of the FT, points out, Tony Hayward and Nat Rothschild are pulling a neat trick by promising investors they can release the “trapped value” of commodity groups in far-flung countries with murky corporate governance:

You unlock this value by putting a respectable board of directors on top of the notepaper, by appointing managers with a strong following in financial markets, by pledging to follow all relevant corporate governance codes and by listing the shares on the London Stock Exchange, preferably on a scale that gets them into the FTSE 100 index. Suddenly investors who might previously have run a mile are queuing up to buy.

 

John Gapper

It is no disrespect to Bob Dudley, the American who is about to become chief executive of BP, to note that were he British – or any other nationality – he probably would not be getting the job.

There is now a distinct possibility that BP will soon have not only an American chief executive but an American chairman too. Paul Anderson, a BP board member, has been mentioned as a possible successor to Carl-Henric Svanberg as non-executive chairman.

Mr Anderson, a former chief executive of both BHP Billiton and Duke Energy, was in the running to become BP chairman last year. As things turned out, it might have been useful to have him around. 

John Gapper

Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, has had a long and painful morning at the House of Representatives energy and commerce committee but he can thank Joe Barton, a Republican member of the committee, for seizing the spotlight.

Mr Barton’s comment that the government had subjected BP to a “$20bn shakedown” drew a rapid response from the White House, which called for Republicans and Democrats to repudiate it. It clearly believes it can win any political tussle over the escrow fund for compensation.