BP's plans for a stronger relationship with the Middle East were taken a stage further last night as Tony Hayward, its embattled chief executive, made a surprise visit to Abu Dhabi. Mr Hayward was seen at a hotel in the capital, fuelling speculation that he was seeking to encourage investors from the emirate to buy shares in the oil company. A spokesman for BP would not say who Mr Hayward met.
"He is visiting some of our most important partners," the spokesman said. "It is a normal week's work for the chief executive of a major oil company. The deal with our partner the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company [ADNOC] is up for renewal and they're probably talking about that." BP's interest in seeking strategic investors in the Middle East was revealed on Sunday in The National. The spokesman said Mr Hayward would meet any potential investors while in the Middle East if asked.
"This is not part of him travelling the world with a begging bowl asking for equity contributions. We are not preparing an equity offering but we're keen that people appreciate the value in BP. If investing institutions want to talk to him, I'm sure he'd agree to meet them." BP said Mr Hayward was on a scheduled visit to the region and that he had spent the morning in Azerbaijan, where he met the president Ilham Aliyev.
He declined to comment when asked the purpose of the trip. "I'm just visiting, I'm here for a couple of days," he told Bloomberg. firstname.lastname@example.org