Leighton dumps Stewart a day after chairman goes

City A.M. Reporter
LEIGHTON Holdings dumped its chief executive a day after the chairman quit, leaving investors aghast at management turmoil and sending its stock sliding yesterday.

Shares in Australia’s top contractor closed 3.3 per cent lower, adding to a 3.1 per cent fall a day earlier after chairman David Mortimer resigned, with investors stunned that chief executive David Stewart was let go just eight months into the job. Leighton’s board, which includes representatives from German parent Hochtief, said Stewart had stabilised the company, but fresh blood was needed.

The move to replace Stewart came after Leighton suffered a big loss in fiscal 2011, hit by problems at its two biggest projects and writedowns on its Middle Eastern joint venture, largely incurred under its former boss Wal King.