We all know that public relations and “stakeholder communications” is
becoming increasingly important in the corporate world and further
confirmation of this will come over the next two months when about 1,200
reports for Australian listed companies will be released, detailing the
exact pay of the ten highest executives in each company.

Rinker, the demerged CSR America, led by example two months ago in expanding the
disclosure from its top five executives to the top ten a year earlier
than the new laws demanded. Look who popped up at number ten – none other
company spinner Deborah Stirling, who pocketed a cool $778,930 in the
year to 31 March 2005. See for yourself on page 25 of the latest
Rinker annual report.

However, that’s only the beginning because page 33 reveals that she
also owns 314,651 Rinker ordinary shares which were worth a staggering
$4.76 million based on Friday’s close of $15.13. Not bad for a former
AAP hack.

Now Stirling isn’t any old spinner. She was the public face of Coles
Myer during the entire Yannon scandal, defending Solly Lew, Peter
Bartels and the lads to the very last. She bowed out shortly after the
new guard took control at the retailing giant but eye-brows were raised
when she landed on her feet at CSR and she hasn’t looked back over the
past six years.

How ironic that Rinker has overtaken Coles Myer in market
capitalisation terms over the past year and is now worth $14.23 billion. A more impressive US growth story by an Australian
company is hard to come by and to the extent that Deborah Stirling
contributed to the booming sales of aggregates, cement, asphalt and
concrete pipe in fast-growing American states like Florida, we
congratulate her.

Surveys have showed that an estimated 65% of our top 200
listed companies employ a corporate affairs specialist as part of their
executive management team and that 74% of these report directly to the
CEO. Stirling has blazed the trail in confirming this trend but which
other names will become public over the next two months?

If anyone can name another multi-millionaire courtesy of a corporate
affairs gig, or at least point out the highest paid business spinners
out there, drop us a line to [email protected]

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey