Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Someone is holding someone else to ransom here and seriously so… and I can still not figure out how the roles are dished out in this tragi-comedy that HLG is….

One friend says, I’ve got it all wrong, the Aussies run the show, no matter what the Spanish say or do;
Another says, nope – the Arabs are in charge and are giving the Aussies the run-around.
A third one warns, the Germans are being too quiet – making for an unlikely calmness to a storm coming.
The forth quietly tells me to but out of the whole thing… it is not worth a thought…

Just as the media following the happenings around HLG (and Leighton Holdings) my friends like to hang a lot of their analyses on the 800+ million dollar loan that the company received from Leightons some time ago – as both the question and answer to all possible future scenarios.

Far from wanting to belittle this ‘tidy little sum’ of money invested in this wobbly company, I find it weird that so many people choose to ignore the forest from the trees (or other way around) and the almost public knowledge that dozens of currently run HLG projects will become major financial liabilities in the future – if not already fighting for bare survival and in a ‘disastrous’ stage.

Today, Mr Al Habtoor ‘awarded’ his latest gem-of-a-project to HLG and was quoted saying:
 “I have confidence in the Habtoor Leighton Group. HLG has built some of the most prominent landmarks in Dubai and the UAE – including Terminal 3 at the Dubai International Airport, the world famous Burj Al Arab and The Officers’ Club in Abu Dhabi.”  (ref see link below)

There are 79 projects listed on HLG’s website, out of those, he selected to mention 3, that were completed with no involvement from the ‘L’ part of the ‘current’ company, most done well before they were even in the picture, one in the early 1990s, some twenty years ago. In fact if those projects were to be mentioned at all, good manners would have dictated credits given to some major (if not vital) JV partners also active on them.
But who am I to give Mr Habtoor lessons on good manners when the poor chap has a virtual gun pointed at his neck. (according to one of the many likely/speculative theories of what really is happening, that I entertain).

And as comic some of these shenanigans have become, I find it hard to treat Mr Habtoor’s words and actions as cleverly manicured PR campaigns, just see them as blunt manipulations of everyone involved.

A ‘class action’ anyone?
Where are all the ‘international trade-exchanges’ these companies are listed on when you really need them for a bit of scrutiny?

Mr Habtoor, if you feel compelled to justify your choice of a contractor for a construction project (which as a private investor you are not obliged to do) why not quote some current projects of HLG instead, for a real, feel-good impact?
Talk to us of present ‘happy clients’, a hospital operator, a local mixed development owner from the royal family, a bank or a national oil company?
What about the dozens of ‘live’ bids that HLG had been involved over the last 6 years that swallowed millions of dollars yet brought in no new projects?
Airports, hospitals, numerous large hotels, entire railways systems, shopping malls, a museum, World islands too?
Why not list those as proofs of confidence to a company that can spend up large on phantom bids and still survive?

Let’s call a spade-a-spade: this is just another ‘buying time’ game – and trust me, with time, I’ll figure out who will win and who will lose in this game in the long run.
Time, I still have. (I think - or hope);

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