A day in the life of Tony Hayward
Some things will never change, such as the enduring appeal of shipping disgraced public figures off to the frozen north for safe keeping. Though the Soviet Union’s GULAG prison camp system hasn’t operated for decades, we learned today that BP’s board plans to send its soon-to-be-former CEO Tony Hayward to cool his heels -- and, presumably, other parts of his body -- in Russia, as a director of TNK-BP, a joint venture between BP and Russian oil barons.
I’m not sure this is what Hayward meant when he said that he wanted his life back.
Still, Tony Hayward won’t exactly be a 21st century Ivan Denisovich. This is more akin to what Nikita Khrushchev did to his political rival Vyacheslav Molotov, who was exiled to Mongolia to serve as Soviet ambassador instead of being sentenced to hard labor or murdered.
Hayward’s gig is better, even. He’s getting a $1.6 million payment along with a pension deal worth $17 million. Even Siberia can be pretty nice with that kind of cash. And TNK-BP isn’t exactly equivalent to the 1957 Soviet embassy in Ulan Bator. The joint venture provides a fourth of BP’s production. Which leads me to believe that BP’s board isn’t trying to render him useless so much as it’s betting Hayward’s cool, too-honest-for-the-24-hour-news-cycle style will translate better in backroom meetings with Russian oligarchs than it has on CNN. At least he won’t be starring in any more painfully awkward legislative hearings. The current Russian regime, I hear, isn’t into the transparency thing. Plus ca change.
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