Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some examples of misguided uses of shareholders’ funds for dubious promotional purposes by Balfour Beatty’s Gammon and Leighton’s HLG

I sit on my balcony, wondering:
Do construction cranes have feelings? Do they get lonely, depressed?
Sad for being underappreciated and under-utilised, reduced to the dumb role of a piece of a stagecraft?
Frozen in a set position for months, decorated by signs, lit up at night, guarding over an unfinished building, enviously eyeing their brothers on the other side of Sheik Zayed’s road, busily pulling up yet another tower, in front of their weary eyes.

There are probably at least a dozen cranes on the abandoned – or diplomatically labelled – temporarily suspended, Dubai Pearl construction site.
They’ve been sitting there, idle for months now, if not a full year, some clever chap having decided it to be a good move to keep them there, nicely spaced out; such a prime location cannot be ignored for marketing purposes.
Or maybe they just have no new jobs to go to, even temporarily while the troubled project gets its funding sorted and restarts?

Some 6000km to the East their not-so distant relatives have been having a slightly more exciting life.
In February Gammon, Leighton’s JV partner on a number of high profile projects in Hong Kong held their annual Spring Dinner.
Probably not considered a luxury by the company, just a run of the mill entertainment for the loyal employees and some VIPs.
Sure, the ‘airline-industry’ themed party did not lack on flamboyance, trust the marketing department to go all nine yards to make every detail, just right. From the entry ‘fake screening gates’ via the make-believe boarding card tickets to the buttons on all of the VIPs uniforms, things were shiny, in style and grand.
Still, what would have interested the mishandled cranes from the Dubai story more than any other bling, would have been the role a concrete truck had to play at the party.
Not only was it lovingly cleaned (if not entirely new), polished and decorated with a lovely pink horse for the occasion but also parked in the middle of one of the halls in the Asia World Expo.
Candy saw to it that the well appreciated vehicle had the best view of the event.

I should probably feel honoured if any/many of my loyal readers got all the way through here, without giving up on this post and/or labelling me as someone that has ‘finally lost it’.

That maybe so, I’d caution anyone against jumping into conclusions too hastily.
Not my perceived fragile state of mind, nor even my well documented feelings of distrust against these companies should distract from the fact, that the management of these entities have still not found their way of steering the companies into long term stability, if anything, they are the ones ‘losing it’.

One may rightly wonder how could I be reaching such a harsh conclusion based on two, relatively benign incidents of careless use of petty cash, that I have remotely observed?

I can and I do.
Because, these are only the tips of the icebergs of ‘management by arrogance’ practices employed by these two construction ‘giants’ – and on these icebergs  I’ll keep on reporting.
For my own sanity, the future of the AEC and for those poor cranes across the road.

First picture from here

Second, my own.

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