Leighton slams report on bid to recover $1.1b

Leighton Holdings has rejected a Fairfax Media report that it had been advised its Middle East joint venture would struggle to recover $1.1 billion it is owed.

Leighton Holdings has rejected a Fairfax Media report that it had been advised its Middle East joint venture would struggle to recover $1.1 billion it is owed.

In a statement to the ASX, Leighton said the report contained inaccuracies about settlements between the Al Habtoor Leighton Group (HLG) and clients.

"Leighton reiterates that Fairfax has once again been inaccurate and unbalanced in its representation of Leighton's operations, governance, values and accounting," the company said. Leighton dismissed several aspects of the report, but did not deny the central allegation that it was given advice by consultants and staff that warned Al Habtoor Leighton would not recover all of the $1.1 billion it claims to be owed for construction work.

Instead Leighton would say only that it held a range of advice about recovering debts and the joint venture was entitled to uphold the value of its claims.

Leighton has pushed out by three years the timeline for the recovery of a substantial number of payments. Fairfax Media on Thursday confirmed Leighton's loans to HLG were not secured by any collateral from the Middle East company.

"Loans are secured by assets, not borrowings, as reported by Fairfax," Leighton stated. "This information has been pointed out to Fairfax and ignored."

Before publication, Leighton referred Fairfax to page 18 of its results to answer questions about loans and security. That page states the loans to HLG are secured by borrowings.

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