Thursday, August 28, 2008

U.S. Commuters will pay the toll for Transurban CEO's golden parachute

Loose lips, loose change


Michael Evans doesn't settle for cheap fakes, copies or imitations.

THAT'S the problem with a mini-me following you around: when the mini-me has a major problem, the major-me has a mega problem.

And for Macquarie Group, it was all fine while everyone was focused on the implosion of Babcock& Brown .

But now UBS analyst, Jonathan Mott - there's a name you're going to be hearing a lot about in the next few weeks - has raised a few questions about how much loose change Macquarie has in its pockets.

An interesting question, even if it does come from Macquarie's chief rival locally, UBS.

Still, Macquarie's Nicholas Moore couldn't find a single reason to explain the 10 per cent slump in the bank's share price as investors trampled over him on the way to the exit yesterday, slicing 10 per cent off its share price to wipe out almost all its bull market share-price gains.

The sell-off drew the attention of US investors perplexed at how Macquarie hasn't been targeted in the same way as Babcock. After all, those short-selling hedge funds have a bit of spare time on their hands now, having polished off Allco, ABC Learning Centres, Centro and Babcock.

Thanks a million

Motoring tolls are used for many things. Painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Fixing potholes.

But motorists on the M2 in north-western Sydney can take heart that last year, numerous chunks of their $4.40 toll were collected by former boss Kim Edwards.

Edwards pocketed $16.7 million last year before he left in April, just a few months before the company announced it would be forced to cut its future distributions. Wonder if he's got his own Etag.

The, um, CEO transition costs, as Transurban called them, featured a $9 million cash bonus of which $5 million was a "strategic milestone incentive plan" and $3 million was a "business generation plan". He also got a $2.5 million fixed remuneration payout and $2 million for leave entitlemU.sents.

Edwards's tidy $17 million payout was more than the Transurban-owned Pocahontas highway outside Washington DC earned last year at US$13.8 million. We're sure it's a coincidence Transurban has sold down its stake now the Edwards toll burden has been lifted.

Still, with new chief tollgate Chris Lynch pocketing a $2 million sign on and a $1 million cash bonus in year one, it's unclear if the company has acquisition plans for its new boss to collect the toll.

© 2008 Sydney Morning

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