Michael Pascoe writes:

Never mind the multiple profit downgrades,
the ASIC investigation, the highly questionable disclosure performance
and the attitude towards paying contractors, Multiplex’s problems are
so bad that they’ve tempted Terry McCrann back from holidays.

McCrann
wrote that his Friday column was the last of the year, but he’s back
today giving Multiplex both barrels and a few kicks to the head as well.

His
spray is the best coverage of the Roberts family company’s woes. Tezza
reckons the losses from the Wembley Stadium job are $400 million and
rising – an amazing achievement as the project was originally budgeted
at only three times that amount.

The inability of the
Multiplex board or management to actually tell investors what is
happening with the company has the stock very seriously on the nose.

And
what might be worse again is that the market seems to be hearing things
about the state of the firm from the backdoor well before half-baked
announcements such as yesterday’s are made to the ASX.

The
Crikey bunker received an anonymous tip a couple of weeks ago that
unnamed figures in financial circles knew more bad news was about to
break about the state of Multiplex well ahead of the stock market.

Crikey
was told in the first week of this month that another major profit
downgrade was on the way – but that could have been just a reasonable
assumption given Multiplex’s incompetence.

The kindest thing
to think about this troubled company’s board and management is that
they simply don’t know what’s going on with Wembley either. And yet to
come are the court cases Multiplex is fighting with major contractors.

On
a related front, it is intriguing that a most interesting story about
Multiplex disputes with a couple of Sydney contractors seems to have
been taken down from the ninemsn web site. The yarn was written three
weeks ago by Channel 9’s Adam Walters – the reporter who broke the
Multiplex extortion threat story – and went into some detail about the
battle the contractors were having to be paid for work completed for
Multiplex.