InvestSMART
The Intelligent Investor Growth Fund is listing on the ASX. Initial Offer now open

Leighton's King makes do with less

The former chief executive of the floundering Leighton Holdings, Wal King, has been forced to make do with a $23.5 million retirement, consulting and non-compete package.

The former chief executive of the floundering Leighton Holdings, Wal King, has been forced to make do with a $23.5 million retirement, consulting and non-compete package.

Despite collecting a "fixed retirement benefit" of $12.6 million, a $4.9 million three-year "restraint" payment and a previously undisclosed $6 million three-year consulting deal, King is believed not to be entirely happy about missing out on his $5 million "satisfactory transition to a new CEO" bonus.

It seems that the transition to the short-lived chief executive David Stewart and then Hamish Tyrwhitt in the space of eight months - along with a $408.8 million full-year loss - was not satisfactory for the Leighton board.

But as far as his sizeable payout, King could always blame the Americans. As he pointed out after the 2009 Leighton annual meeting: "All I can say to you is that it won't be any high-flying American parachuted in at outrageous salaries that make mine look like chicken feed and stay for two years and fill up the jumbo jet and leave.

"All they have done is ratcheted up salaries for guys like me. They have parachuted in ... told us what a crappy country we have and how we are also dopey and don't know what we are doing," he said in a reference to Telstra's lower-paid chief executive Sol Trujillo.

King's payout could have been bigger if not for the 39 per cent slump in the company's share price since his departure on January 31.

The annual report notes that King on June 29 "chose to surrender his 2009 options".

The 150,000 options had an exercise price of $19.49 - 78? above Leighton's closing price yesterday.

STILL PAYING

Leighton Holdings is a company that just keeps giving as far as its departed staff are concerned. The group's annual report noted other lingering goodbye payments. There was a $1.2 million "restraint" payment made to former chief financial officer Scott Charlton on July 15, nearly two years after he left the company.

This is on top of the $2.99 million termination payment Charlton collected when he was replaced by former Qantas beancounter Peter Gregg in late 2009.

But there is one former Leighton chief executive who will be at the mercy of shareholders. King's short-lived replacement, David Stewart, will be required to have his termination package approved at the November 11 annual meeting. His termination package will not be detailed until Leighton dispatches its notice of meeting next week.

Other noteworthy payments include the $US2 million "special bonus" Leighton's now-resigned chief international operating officer, David Savage, was paid for expanding the group's international operations.

ADLER ON HOLD

Not even the former HIH director and ex-jailbird, Rod Adler, has been able to escape the strike delays affecting Qantas. A rather dishevelled Adler was spotted in cattle class on flight QF423 yesterday which arrived in Melbourne four hours late.

SORE POWERPOINT

This week's "hysterical response to a PowerPoint presentation award" goes to the Greens senator, Lee Rhiannon.

It seems a slide presented by BHP Billiton's human resources president, Andrew Carey, on a site tour of the company's iron ore operations - that projected the resources sector in Australia would require 170,000 new jobs in the next five years - was not as innocent as it would appear at first glance.

Rhiannon, in a press release, warned the slide was actually part of "an attempt by the multinational to intimidate the federal government into designing job policies that suit the mining industry at the expense of NSW and other states suffering from mining boom-related pressures".

"Australia urgently needs more skilled workers, but this should not be limited to the needs of mining companies," the former editor of the left-wing paper Survey explained.

Hitting out at the "outlandish demand" by BHP, Rhiannon said: "The record dollar, largely due to the mining boom, is driving NSW manufacturers out of business, as the imports they compete with become cheaper while their own exports become more expensive."

Got a tip? Use our online tips box or email srochfort@smh.com.au Twitter: @srochfort


Join the Conversation...

There are comments posted so far.

If you'd like to join this conversation, please login or sign up here

Related Articles