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: