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Leighton plays musical Chairman

After the unplanned resignations of its Chairman Stephen Johns and two directors last Friday, Leighton Holdings (ASX: LEI) announced (link opens a PDF) today that it has appointed Bob Humphris as temporary Chairman. The international contracting company has been reeling from its executive departures and their accusations that majority shareholder HOCHTIEF attempted to interfere with the Board’s independence and appointment process. On Friday, shares of Leighton fell 6.9%.

Humphris previously served as Peabody Resources’ Managing Director for 10 years and has been an “Independent Non-Executive Director” of Leighton since 2004. He also chairs the corporation’s Tender Review and Risk Committee and is a member of two Leighton advisory boards. In a statement today, Humphris noted that “The Board, the major shareholder and management are all firmly committed to Leighton and are absolutely focused on managing the business in the best interest of all stakeholders.”

In its press release, Leighton included HOCHTIEF’s letter of concern. Among its statements and assertions, the German construction company reaffirmed that it “has at no time given the Leighton independent directors any cause to believe that it intends to depart from these principles.” In his resignation letter, Mr. Johns accused HOCHTIEF CEO/Leighton Director Marcelino Fernandez of interfering with the appointment of a new independent director.

HOCHTIEF’s letter also notes that it did not support Mr. Johns’ re-election, and had made its reasons known to all other directors.

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