Shareholders Vote to Change Leighton to CIMIC Group

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015
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Construction giant Leighton insists its history is not being rejected despite changing its name amid allegations of foreign corruption.

The 66-year-old company will now be known as CIMIC Group after its shareholders overwhelmingly approved the new branding.

The new name stands for Construction, Infrastructure, Mining and Concessions, and is being adopted amid calls for a Senate inquiry into allegations of foreign bribery against Leighton Holdings, Leighton Offshore and Thiess.

Executive chairman Marcelino Fernandez Verdes declined to comment on the allegations, or suggestions they were the reason for the change.

“Right now we live in a moment that is a difficult one because of allegations, but don’t think that we’re rejecting our history,” he told reporters after the company’s annual general meeting.

“A company with this history, with this value, Leighton is a very, very good company.

“I’m very happy and proud of Leighton.”

The Leighton name will remain for its operations in Asia, along with its Leighton Properties subsidiary.  Despite strong approval from shareholders for the new name, several spoke out during the meeting.

“There’s valuable good will in the name Leighton Holdings and that will be totally lost,” one shareholder said.

Leighton has also reaffirmed its full year profit guidance after lifting earnings during the first three months of 2015.  Earnings rose five per cent increase in first quarter of the year to $208 million, and profit margins climbed 20 per cent to 3.6 per cent.

Mr Verdes said the company still expects a net profit of between $450 million and $520 million in 2015.

German-based and Spanish-owned construction company Hochtief last year increased its stake in Leighton to almost 70 per cent.

That has resulted in a new management team, which has since sold its John Holland subsidiary to a Chinese company and offloaded a 50 per cent stake in Thiess Services and Leighton Contractors.

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