13/12/2007 - 12:31

Langoulant to leave CCI for Stokes' ACE

13/12/2007 - 12:31

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Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia boss John Langoulant has resigned from the peak business and employer group to take up the role of chief executive with Kerry Stokes' private company, Australian Capital Equity Pty Ltd.

Langoulant to leave CCI for Stokes' ACE

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia boss John Langoulant has resigned from the peak business and employer group to take up the role of chief executive with Kerry Stokes' private company, Australian Capital Equity Pty Ltd.

ACE owns WesTrac Pty Ltd, which has a 66 per cent shareholding in the National Hire Group Ltd and the right to sell Caterpillar vehicles in WA, New South Wales, ACT and Northern China.

ACE and associated entities also hold a 41.7 per cent stake in Seven Network Ltd, which has built up a 19.4 per cent stake in West Australian Newspapers Holdings Ltd and is widely thought to be considering a full takeover offer for the newspaper.

It had been widely speculated that Mr Langoulant harboured political ambitions and was likely to take up a role within the Western Australian Liberal Party.

However, Mr Langoulant said he had no interest in re-entering the public service and would entertain his passion for WA business through a leadership role with ACE.

He said he was attracted to ACE by the opportunity to work with a large corporate entity with diverse investment activitities across Australia and the world.

"I will be seeking, particularly through the activities of Australian Capital Equity, to provide a business leadership role because of the scale and the diversity of its investments," he said.

"Those [investments] will be very important to the state's future."

Mr Langoulant joined CCI in July 2004 after a distinguished career in the state and federal public service, including nine years as WA under-treasurer.

In the past year, Mr Langoulant has become the public face of the major sports stadium debate as the government-appointed Stadia Taskforce chairman.

He will step down as CCI chief executive in late January before taking up his new role with ACE in early February, which will be based in Perth.

"I will leave the chamber in a position of considerable strength. Certainly over the last three and a half years we have broadened the policy debate to a level which is now one that is very interactive with government...we have also developed the Chamber in a way where it helps business accross the state," Mr Langoulant told a press conference today.

"I think we've been quite successful in actually challenging government to ensure that the management of public finance is as good as it possibly can be."

In an economic climate of unprecedented prosperity, Mr Langoulant said the biggest challenge for the WA government remained the easing of the tax burden on business.

On the lingering stadium debate, Mr Langoulant said he was extremely disappointed that the government had not received a more positive response from the sporting codes.

"I don't think any community in the world has had its government say 'we are prepared to spend $900 million investing in a new world-class stadium which will meet the needs of all the major sporting codes'. And yet to my great amazement in Western Australia, our sporting codes have said to the government 'well the terms on which you want to build this for us are not good enough'," he said.

"The codes need to sit back and assess the generosity of the offer and get on board."

ACE's investments have been on the growth track in the past few years with National Hire Group Ltd recently teaming up with private equity fund, The Carlyle Group, to bid for Coates Hire Ltd.

In 2004, National Hire acquired the Cat Rental Store business operated by WesTrac in WA and 100 per cent of the shares in Allight Holdings Pty Ltd for a total equity consideration of $111.9 million.

ACE is currently headed up by long-serving managing director Peter Gammell, who will retain his title.

A decision on Mr Langoulant's successor is yet to be made, however, Mr Langoulant indicated there was a very good chance a new chief executive could be recruited from within CCI.

 

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