Friday, March 21, 2014

Battleships and mind-wars and what could the future hold for the dumped CEO of Leightons?

Just about any media outlet that reported on what happened to the ‘Australian Construction Giant’ Leighton over the last week or so, labelled the events as the actions of the ‘Spanish Armada’s’.
Even without needing to resort to Google to refresh my historical knowledge, I had an inkling that the parallels were not meant to be flattering to the Spanish backed Hochtief blitzkrieging the Aussies.

I guess, going back to the 16th century for the precedent they wanted to reference was a bit safer for the ‘like to play it careful’ journos than looking for a German equivalent of a more recent history.
Still, I wonder how many of the reporters that obligingly re-parroted the original story have paused even for a minute and thought through what they were truly implying by likening the new CEO of the ‘iconic Australian contractor’ to the head of the infamously stricken Spanish fleet?

There also was an almost palpable hint in most of these reports that ‘all was not lost’ for Hamish T, the disposed CEO, neither financially nor professionally, having bagged a handsome golden handshake and a public ‘no issue with his performance’ statement.
Still, while carefully sitting on the fence of ‘make-believe independence’ most media duly reported on the size of his parting package, yet none that I read ventured into any speculation of what his future steps could be.

Will he wait out a customary ‘grieving period’ and launch into a competing business himself or just spend the remaining years playing golf and guest-speaking at business luncheons?
Will there be a diplomatic role earmarked for him in one of the exotic places he’d so well connected with, an obvious career for a professional with a hair/smile feature-duo groomed to perfection.
Also don’t forget all the suits he must have amassed through his career – you’d not want to have those go to waste, heaven forbid eaten by the moths.
And anyway, barring some serious breakers in his severance package, why would he be ‘mothballing’ his career at the age of 50 or so?

After all, he should be ahead of the Spanish/Germans’, at least on the Aussie construction turf with his understanding of the ‘real value’ of the deal they were obtaining by so eagerly wanting to own a large part of Leighton.

True, there are tangible parts of the business that if sold quickly and smartly may turn into some real money, there may even be numerous projects that will be closed without making significant losses, however the ‘real juicy future’ this Armada may be banking on, that is based on a steady supply of government civil, infrastructure and building projects for years and years to come could be a bit less of a ‘sure thing’.

Take away the tangibles and what you’re left with is, the ‘goodwill’ of the company.
And, it’s not called ‘goodwill’ for nothing…

Mr T should go back to his own-and-fellow Leightoners’  experiences in misjudging this component at acquisitions Leighton had made in the past – and in this case use what was learned from the mistakes they made to his own advantage.
In this industry connections mean more than anything else, the ‘who you know’ over the ‘what you know’, rules it, pretty much globally.

He could set up a rival company, pick the good bits out of Leighton and entice them over to the new business and then beat the now foreign-owned Leighton to the meaty Aussie projects the government will put out on offer in the future.
And if he plays it right, he may be able to pull the same scam off in parts of Asia that Leighton has been historically strong too.
For a little while yet, anyway.

picture from here:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Christmas had come early for Hamish Tyrwhitt this year, early and bearing gifts.

Finally, a May to look forward to, for the recently unmade, i.e. ex Leighton CEO, on full pay and in peace.
No nervous twitching of the stomach muscles, no worrying migraines, sleepless nights before another uncomfortable annual meeting.
No rowdy shareholders to pacify and over-ambitious journalists to answer to.
Not even random bloggers like me, to worry about.
Not that he would see this since he blacklisted me some months ago.

He’s been let off the hook.

True, in reality, he got dumped pretty bad, kicked out of his plush position that he hung onto with his bare fingers for quite a while…
… but no real Aussie would ever see it that way, let alone confirm it publicly, not after what he’d done for the company, the AEC industry, the country.

Especially after they see the German/Spanish arrogance swooping into the country and loudly claiming what they rightly think to be their own.
Yes, the new owners may have paid for this, yes they may even have the paperwork to prove it, but they know nothing about the Australian people if they think they can have ’Leighton’ – just, like that!
Does not really matter what colour the flag this ship is sailing under, if it’s not the ozzie version of the Union Jack, it counts for little.

Sure, they can have the shoddy bits, the ‘job-for-life’ attitude, the ‘pubbing on any day in the week’ and ‘sleep it off on construction sites afterwards’ practices. The myths of promises of becoming one of Wally’ boys and getting banished to Hong Kong, Malaysia or the Middle East, with everything these trips will burden one’s poor soul with…

They can bring the Spanish brigade to teach this old toothless granny how to suck eggs…
But…they will never get the other side of the coin….

And I wonder.. if Hamish Tyrwhitt IS finally getting it….
…if the ‘proverbial’ coin has finally dropped.

What will make for the  Spanish-German’s a  very difficult job to succeed in Australia is exactly the same ‘force’ he and his comrades have failed to foresee when in their arrogance went into conquering the Middle East, hastily and without thinking it through.
When they thought the ‘mate’ door will open doors everywhere and forever.
When they took things for granted.

A dangerous thing that is, taking anything for granted.
It is not only Hamish Tyrwhitt, that will need to learn this in the near future.