Multiplex adds new director

MULTIPLEX has recently completed its board of directors by recruiting a former adviser to Prime Minister Paul Keating.

Barbara Ward will be one of four independent non-executive directors on the 10-person board.

Ms Ward was an adviser to Mr Keating in the 1980s before taking senior executive roles with TNT and Ansett.

She became a professional director in 1998 and her current positions include chairman of Country Energy and a director of Commonwealth Bank and Lion Nathan.

Multiplex’s other non-executive directors are Perth-based John Poynton, who is chairman of corporate advisory firm Poynton & Partners, and Sydney-based Allan McDonald and Peter Dransfield.

The company acknowledges in its prospectus that the board structure does not comply with the Australian Stock Exchange’s corporate governance guidelines, which call for a majority of directors, including the chairman, to be independent.

The board has six executive directors, including John Roberts as chairman.

The prospectus said this departure from the best practice guidelines was justified by the stewardship of Mr Roberts over the past 41 years, the integral role played by the Roberts family and senior management in the success of the business, and the Roberts family’s 42 per cent shareholding in the listed company. On a strict reading of the best practice guidelines, which many observers believe are overly demanding, even Mr Poynton would not qualify as an ‘independent’ director.

This is because Poynton & Partners earnt $275,000 by providing transaction structuring and general corporate advisory services to Multiplex in the lead-up to the initial public offering.

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