Hamish Tyrwhitt Angered By Leighton Corruption Scandal

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Thursday, November 14th, 2013
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Construction giant Leighton has blamed what it calls a media campaign for falsely tarnishing its reputation and damaging its financial position.

Construction giant Leighton has blamed what it calls a media campaign for falsely tarnishing its reputation and damaging its financial position.

The company said recoveries of bills in Iraq, where it is owed $400 million for an oil pipeline contract, had been damaged by recent reports alleging widespread corruption, bribery and cover-ups in the business.

Chief executive Hamish Tyrwhitt said he was annoyed that Leighton’s current gearing level – a measure of debt to equity – was 39 per cent, above its target range of 25 to 35 per cent.

Net debt of $1.5 billion had risen since June 30.

Analysts had warned the scandal would threaten Leighton’s ability to collect receivables, with collection of unpaid debts in the Middle East already a problem.

In his first presentation to analysts since the recent media reports, Mr Tyrwhitt firmly rejected the allegations against Leighton’s governance systems and integrity.

He did not address more specific allegations, which include a $42 million bribe paid to Iraq officials.

“The events over the last four weeks have been unprecedented and distracting,” Mr Tyrwhitt said.

“We create jobs, we contribute to economic growth and we will deliver sustainable returns to our shareholders.”

Three former Leighton executives have quit current posts at other companies because of their connection to the scandal.

Leighton said it was on track to meet previous guidance of an improved profit of $520 million to $600 million for the year to December 31.

However that was subject to market conditions and unfavourable developments, with a slowdown in mining and coal particularly the major worries.

Leighton made an unaudited net profit of $444 million in the nine months to September 30, up 40 per cent on the same period in 2012.

 

By Greg Roberts

 

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