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Last Updated: Friday, 12 January 2007, 18:41 GMT
Tony Hayward - BP's new boss
By Jon Cronin
Business Reporter, BBC News

Tony Hayward
The new face of BP

BP's new boss Tony Hayward takes over at a turbulent time for the British oil giant.

True, BP is a hugely successful company, second in size only to US rival Exxon in the global oil industry.

But the firm has had its fair share of setbacks recently, including the partial shutdown of its massive Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska, delays to its key Thunder Horse platform in the Gulf of Mexico, and the fallout from a fatal fire at a Texas-based oil refinery in 2005.

And then there is the question of BP's interests in Russia, where the Kremlin has been taking an increasingly tough line with foreign oil companies.

Mr Hayward will become ultimately responsible for these issues and many more when he takes over from BP's respected chief executive Lord Browne in June this year.

The sudden announcement of his promotion on Friday surprised observers, who had been expecting Lord Browne to remain in his post until the end of 2008.

Leadership change?

BP workers scanning oil pipelines at the Prudhoe Bay oil field in Alaska

Currently BP's head of exploration and production, Mr Hayward has been described as a favourite of Lord Browne, and was widely tipped as a possible successor for the role of chief executive.

However, the University of Edinburgh graduate has not been shy in the past of expressing his views - even when they were critical of his own company.

Addressing an audience in Houston last year, in the wake of a blast at the firm's Texas City refinery, which killed 15 people, Mr Hayward attacked BP's management style.

"We have a leadership style that is too directive and doesn't listen sufficiently well," Mr Hayward was reported to have said. "The top of the organisation doesn't listen sufficiently to what the bottom is saying."

Employees - particularly disgruntled staff in the US - will be looking to see if Mr Hayward introduces a new, perhaps more consensual, leadership style when he takes over the reins.

Investors and analysts will be equally keen to see if Mr Hayward can match the performance of Lord Browne, who has presided over a fivefold increase in the company's market capitalisation to 104.6bn.

BP's results for 2006 are expected to top 11.5bn.

'Disarming smile'

Born in 1957, Mr Hayward gained a first class geology degree and PhD from Edinburgh University at the age of 22.

Described by one correspondent as having a "disarming smile and informal manner", he joined BP in 1982 and rose quickly through the ranks.

Mr Hayward first came to Lord Browne's attention during a leadership conference in 1990 in Phoenix, Arizona.

In 1992, he moved to Colombia as exploration manager and became president of BP's operations in Venezuela three years later.

He became chief executive of exploration and production in January 2003.

A keen fan of London football club West Ham, Mr Hayward is married with two children, and lists his interests as sailing, triathlons and watching football, rugby and cricket.

BP's Browne to stand down in July
12 Jan 07 |  Business
BP manager criticises leadership
18 Dec 06 |  Business
BP appoints new Alaska unit head
01 Nov 06 |  Business
BP 'knew of Texas safety worries'
01 Nov 06 |  Business
BP raises refinery blast pay-out
03 Jul 06 |  Business
Bumper oil prices lift BP profits
08 Feb 05 |  Business

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