Pocahontas official write-off makes news downunner - Transurban shakeup PERSONNEL
By Peter Samuel
2012-08-08: Transurban's A$138m, $130m write-down of the feeble Pochahontas Parkway project made the national news in Australia with the government-owned Australian Broadcasting Commission television managing to show I-95 traffic as being on the Transurban pike - which is located on the other side of the James River east of Richmond.
Traffic at hardly 15,000 a day on the Pocahontas Parkway is a tiny fraction of I-95 traffic. More to the point it is some 65% below forecast traffic as projected by Wilbur Smith.
The project was a folly of the boom mentality of ten years ago and planned development projects on the east bank and around Richmond's small airport that failed to happen. The Parkway serves mainly cornfields and grass supporting the odd grazing horse.
Transurban's weaker half year result was in part the result of a formal write-down of the Richmond VA pike, long since conceded by company officials to be a crock. But the project is a small one compared to two under way in northern Virginia and only $15m out of some $700m in the company's total toll revenue.
June 18 the company issued an official statement of a Pocahontas writedown, but it was all news to the 'strine media this week.
Top execs being shuffled
The company is seeing a major personnel shakeup with former top executives Chris Lynch in Australia and Ken Daley in the US both out.
Lynch was a constant target and attractor of bad media for Transurban from the multi-million dollar pay he took as CEO - about $7 million in the latest year. A jolly rotund figure Lynch was a kind of natual corporate 'villain' for reporters inclined to be hostile.
Lynch in Melbourne has been succeeded by an American settler in Australia, Scott Charlton.
With a financial background Charlton, 55, was previously chief operating officer of Lend Lease, a large Australian construction company, before that chief financial officer at another builder Leighton Holdings, before which he was Australian managing director of Deutsche Bank.
Daley who had the title president international development kept a much lower profile than Lynch. He was a key in the completion in the late 1990s of Melbourne City Link the company's first and most successful tollroad. He moved to America in 2003 first working out of the company's office in New York City, then moving to Alexandria Virginia.
Along with Michael Kulper, president Transurban North America Daley was the key executive to the two huge toll projects Transurban is undertaking in Northern Virginia - the 495 Capital Beltway Toll Express Lanes and the I-95 toll lanes.
Ken Daley leaving
Daley no doubt took blame for the Pocahontas Parkway mis-step, and seems to be a victim of the shakeup in Melbourne.
But he's very much a supporter of the company in his departure as this email to colleagues and friends indicates:
"After the best part of 16 years I am leaving Transurban. It has been a life changing experience!
"Across the years I have worked with many remarkable people and seen a company grow from virtually nothing to become a world leader. It has been a pleasure to be part of the team - to have enjoyed the many successes and overcome so many challenges. Without doubt it has been the people in Transurban and from our partners who have made the difference.
"Transurban is a great company with great people and a great future.
"I am now in the process of transitioning out of my role and tidying up my affairs in the US. I would like to thank everyone for their support and companionship and to wish all the very best going forward.
"I will be returning to Australia in a few weeks and look forward to enjoying time with family and friends."
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