Pity poor Wal King, the Leighton’s CEO. There he was last week, out of
town and enjoying himself when the mobile goes off and he’s told there’s a hole in
the road above the Lane Cove Tunnel project being built by two of Leighton’s
main construction arms, Thiess and John

What’s Australia’s
second highest paid CEO to do? Delegate of course, and sit back and wait for the
2005 Leighton shareholders meeting to appear on the horizon ten days

Which it did and despite the
publicity for the hole in the road at Lane Cove and the near collapse of a block
of 22 apartments, shareholders meekly fell into line and gave Wal another big fat payoff for the next three years.

share price has recovered from the disasters of 2004 in the Spencer Street
Station project in Melbourne and Sydney’s Hilton Hotel
redevelopment. Both are yesterday’s news. Someone else took the rap for that.

strong suggestions of a weakened profit line being bolstered by an accounting
change were also history. It had done what it was supposed to do, support the
share price and investor confidence. A one-off

course Leighton’s parent, Hochtief AG of
Germany was there supporting the CEO
who has turned their small investment in a struggling company years ago into an
absolute gold mine. As
a result of the meeting, Wal’s in the money. Firstly at
the end of this month and his present term as CEO, he takes home $23.1 million
as part of retirement benefits accrued between 2000 and this

Then Wal
starts his new three-year contract with a base salary of $2.7 million and with
the potential to earn up to an extra $6.5 million a

Like Woolies Roger Corbett, there’s
a further payment for after Wal retires to stop him
working elsewhere: he will get $3.6 million over two years, Roger gets $3 million over five years. Both payments
are hard to justify.

this is on top of the $25.3 million Leighton paid Mr
King in April as part of the benefits and interest he had accrued between 1988
and 2000.

The Leighton boss pocketed $12.8 million in salary, bonuses and
benefits in the year to June 30 – about $5.2 million of which is
included in the payment he gets when he finishes his present contract
this month. Nice work if you can get it. Wal will be 64 when his new
contract is up. It more than makes up for holes in the ground at Lane

And don’t think he’ll be making any donations to the 22 residents in the apartment block
made unliveable by the hole in the
ground. In
fact Wal got rather testy when asked that yesterday
after the AGM.