Aug 30, 2012

In terms of huge exec pay, Little means a lot

Call it another case of celebrity CEO syndrome, where the symptoms appear to be excessive payments for poor performance.

Adam Schwab — Business director and commentator

Adam Schwab

Business director and commentator

Call it another case of celebrity CEO syndrome, where the symptoms appear to be excessive payments for poor performance. This time, the beneficiary is Paul Little, already one of Australia’s richest men, who, despite presiding over a dramatic collapse in Toll’s share price, continues to be handsomely rewarded by the company’s bumbling board.

Had he retired in 2006, Little would be justifiably remembered as one of Australia’s most successful chief executives. Together with former partner Peter Rowsthorn, Little undertook a $1.6 million management buyout of Toll from mining company Peko Wallsend (which would later become part of Rio Tinto). By 2006, Little has transformed Toll into Australia’s 23rd largest company, with a market capitalisation of more than $13 billion and revenues of almost $9 billion.

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4 thoughts on “In terms of huge exec pay, Little means a lot

  1. dunph

    Hurrah – a well-researched piece of corporate journalism. However I think that the FInal Act will be even more dramatic:

    Contrary to the above, it was NOT the Patrick deal that killed Toll’s dream-run, but the ill-conceived expansion into International Freight Forwarding with SembLog / Cargo Services / Gluck et al acquisitions at nonsense multiples.

    Brian Kruger gets to play fall-guy in this parody – having taken the poison chalice and now facing up to the real value of purchases undertaken by Little and his gung-ho corporate guy Stephen Stanley – also departed.

    Paul Little gets to sit this round out, having taken Michael Fox out of Toll Group to manage his Little Property Investments, funded by some well-timed sales of scrip outside the director’s disclosure windows.

    Now wait until the Toll share-price REALLY tanks, complete with Chairman Horsburgh and MD Kruger falling on their swords – and hark the chivalrous return of Chairman Paul, who will slay the appropriate dragons and resurrect the ailing business with steely resolve.

    Of course Chairman Little has good reason to do all this – as he still owns a sizeable chunk of the reduced aToll …

  2. Gavin Moodie

    Thanx Dunph

    I agree that this is one of Schwab’s good pieces.

  3. Michael Hughes

    “In summary, despite the options being completely worthless (the never would have vested), Toll shareholders ended paying Little $8.8 million for them.”

    How the hell is that legal?! That’s practically looting from the till.

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