Here is a list of Australian companies that have allowed a new CEO to take the helm and wield the axe on balance sheet values.
AMP: the $5.542 billion loss in 2004 was the final clearing of the decks by new CEO Andrew Mohl from the disastrous move into the UK over the previous 25 years.
ANZ: when Don Mercer replaced Will Bailey as CEO in 1992 he cleared the decks and reported a $600 million loss due to a huge surge in bad debts caused by Paul Keating’s recession we had to have.
AMP: For the year to December 31, 1999, AMP recorded a net loss of $403 million after new CEO Paul Batchelor took a $1 billion write off on its investment in GIO.
Adsteam: the group of companies put together by John Spalvins together wracked up losses of $1.58 billion in the year to June 30, 1991, shortly after the company founder was finally ousted by the banks.
Aristocrat: the gaming machine maker had a net loss of $106 million for 2003, after new CEO Paul Oneile wrote down the value of contracts and business operations.
BHP: When Paul Anderson and finance director Chip Goodyear took the reigns in the late 1990s they cleared the decks and declared a then Australian record $2.3 billion loss for BHP in 1998-99 with write-offs across the board but especially in the Magma Copper division. This was after incumbent John Prescott announced $3 billion in write-offs and a $1.47 billion loss in 1997-98.
Davids Holdings : once again, it was the new broom CEO in action as former Packer finance man Don Bourke took over the running of the company and came up with massive write-downs and a $240 million net loss in 1996-97.
Lend Lease: new CEO Greg Clarke announced a $715 million loss for 2002-03 after $945 million worth of writedowns in the value of its US, Asian and European real estate businesses.
Mayne Nickless: New CEO Peter Smedley cleared the decks in the 1999-2000 financial year with $243 million in write-downs which produced a net loss of $174 million as the share price surged and then later plunged again as the Smedley miracle proved to be a mirage.
MIM: The perennially struggling miner recruited Nick Stump from Comalco and he did the usual thing and cleared the decks in his first outing to announce a $216 million bottom-line loss for 1994-95.
Orica: the chemical giant reported a $195 million bottom-line loss for the year to the end of September 2001 after new CEO Malcolm Broomhead came in and cleared the decks with large write-offs and job cuts.
Sausage Software: the IT company has now been renamed SMS Management and Technology but with the likes of Steve Outtrim, Wayne Bos and Gil Hoskins out the door, new CEO Lloyd Roberts cleared the decks in 2000-01 reporting a net loss of $264 million.
Southcorp: John Ballard replaced Keith Lambert as CEO and announced a net loss of $922 million for 2002-03, blamed on difficult trading conditions in the UK and Australia and a lower contribution from super premium wines because of the smaller 2000 vintage.