* Ex-BP CEO to serve as senior independent director
* Minara's Peter Coates, RHJ's Leonard Fischer join board
* William Macaulay of Glencore investor First Reserve hired
* HK businessman Li Ning, Glasenberg classmate, also joins
LONDON, April 14 (Reuters) - Glencore [GLEN.UL], the Swiss commodity trader, named former BP Plc (BP.L) Chief Executive Tony Hayward to lead a five-strong team of independent directors, as it launched a flotation that could top $12 billion.
Investors considering backing what could be London's largest-ever listing are likely to scrutinise the directors' experience and ability to stand up to an executive team used to running a tight-knit partnership with little outside influence.
However, several directors have close links to Glencore. They include a former classmate of CEO Ivan Glasenberg, a former chairman of a Glencore subsidiary and a holder of the trading and mining giant's convertible bonds.
Glencore named Peter Coates, the outgoing chairman of Glencore subsidiary Minara Resources Ltd MRE.AX, and William Macaulay, the chairman and CEO of energy buyout firm First Reserve, which helped Glencore prepare for listing, as independent directors.
Also on the list are RHJ International SA RHJI.BR CEO Leonhard Fischer and Hong Kong businessman Li Ning -- a contemporary of Glasenberg's at a Californian business school in the early 1980s.
The directors will serve alongside executive directors Ivan Glasenberg, CEO, and Steven Kalmin, chief financial officer, on the eight-strong board.
Glencore did not name a chairman but said it was "in the final stages of making the appointment" and would reveal its choice shortly. Simon Murray, the veteran Hong Kong businessman and Polar adventurer, has said he is a candidate and former BP chief executive John Browne is also on the shortlist, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Following are profiles of the non-executive independent directors:
THE OIL MAN
Tony Hayward, 53, stepped down as BP CEO in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 men and triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
Hayward, who helped stoke public and political outcry with a string of PR gaffes, said he felt "demonised and vilified" at his treatment.
Still, he is beginning to notch up new industry roles -- people familiar with the matter say he is preparing to launch an energy investment company with financier Nat Rothschild.
A BP lifer, Hayward joined in 1982 after completing a doctorate in geology, rising to head of exploration and production before succeeding John Browne as CEO in 2007.
Peter Coates, 65, has longstanding ties to Glencore. He stepped down as chairman of Minara, the Australian nickel producer which is 70.5 percent owned by Glencore, on Monday.
Until 2007, he was CEO of the coal division of Xstrata Plc XTA.L, the London-listed miner 34.5 percent owned by Glencore.
Coates holds a degree in mining engineering and is former chairman of the Minerals Council of Australia.
Leonhard Fischer, 48, is CEO of RHJ, the European investment firm spun off from U.S. private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings.
A former JPMorgan trader, Fischer ran Dresdner Bank's investment bank, Dresdner Kleinwort, in his thirties and later turned round Credit Suisse's insurance arm Winterthur.
Last year RHJ bought Kleinwort Benson from Commerzbank, which rescued Dresdner, and Fischer is aiming to build a "classical merchant banking business" around the storied brand.
THE ENERGY BUYOUT BARON
William Macaulay, who is 65 and valued by Forbes magazine at about $1.1 billion, is a pioneer of leveraged buyouts (LBOs) targeting the energy industry, and has already backed Glencore.
He is the boss of First Reserve, the Greenwich, Connecticut firm that is one of the biggest private-equity investors in energy, and whose most recent fund raised $9 billion.
First Reserve was in a select band of investors that bought more than $2 billion of Glencore bonds in late 2009 that will convert into equity when the IPO completes.
Macaulay is chairman of Dresser-Rand Group Inc DRC.N, a firm floated by First Reserve, and has held board positions at 10 of the world's 50 biggest oilfield services companies.
THE HONG KONG BUSINESSMAN
Li Ning, 53, is the son-in-law of Lee Shau Kee, the tycoon behind Henderson Land Development Co (0012.HK) and Henderson Investment Ltd (0097.HK). Li serves as an executive director at both companies.
His father-in-law is Hong Kong's second-richest man, with a fortune estimated at $18.5 billion by Forbes.
Li and Glasenberg both earned MBAs from the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business in 1983, USC records show.
(Reporting by Quentin Webb; additional reporting by Eric Onstad; editing by Sophie Walker)