No Downer as Spotless boss makes abrupt exit

No Downer as Spotless boss makes abrupt exit

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 18: New Spotless CEO Martin Sheppard poses for a portrait on August 18, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. Sheppard was a former partner at KPMG. (Photo by Wayne Taylor/Fairfax Media) MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – AUGUST 18: New Spotless CEO Martin Sheppard poses for a portrait on August 18, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. Sheppard was a former partner at KPMG. (Photo by Wayne Taylor/Fairfax Media)

If you’re not one for conspiracy theories, you won’t see anything untoward in the fact that Spotless chief executive, Martin Sheppard, stepped down with immediate effect on Tuesday – just two days before the rather spotty cleaning services group delivers what should be its last full-year result as a listed company.

With Grant Fenn’s Downer EDI all but in control of Spotless, there isn’t much reason to hang around, but given its history of profit downgrade disasters you wouldn’t bet against some surprises.

Spotless says there won’t even be a market briefing with the results release. The market is expected to be focused on the Downer EDI mothership, which reports its results next Tuesday.

The takeover party is all but over with Sheppard’s chief operating officer, Dana Nelson, now at the helm with Downer’s blessings.

CBD has been told to take Nelson’s promotion as a sign that Downer is happy with Sheppard’s strategy, but even happier to work with a cleanskin unaffected by the hostile takeover battle.

As well as joining the modest ranks of female CEOs on the ASX, Nelson picks up a $600,000 pay rise to $1.1 million – handy given the $250,000 two-year retention bonus got paid out on June 30.

CBD has been told to expect to see details of Sheppard’s final exit package in the financial accounts this week.

It means that Sheppard, who joined in November 2015, will achieve that rare distinction of having his entry, and exit package, revealed in consecutive accounts.

At least Sheppard will have ample time to prepare for his latest Sydney to Hobart adventure with his brother, veteran yachtie Derek Sheppard.

The brothers bought their own yacht last year, renamed Black Sheep, and raced together for the first time.

“In the last 10 Hobarts there’s been three that I would’ve preferred to have been anywhere else on Earth than on a boat in the middle of Bass Strait,” said Derek before the most recent race.

After less than two years at Spotless, Martin probably knows the feeling well. Big flop

Is it a coincidence that BHP Billiton decided to unveil its booming dividend bonanza alongside the news that it is finally abandoning its shale gas disaster? And not alongside the news of how much chief executive Andrew Mackenzie will get from returning the focus to its core business of mining?

The “shale acquisitions were poorly timed, we paid too much and the rapid progress of early development was not optimal”, Mackenzie offered in the latest mea culpa for the disastrous decision of his predecessor, Marius Kloppers, in 2011.

Kloppers, and his petroleum boss, Texan Mike Yeager, plonked $US20 billion on the business and spent another $US20 billion developing it.

“This is absolutely stupendous,” Yeager told British newspaper The Telegraph in 2012. “This is the biggest thing that has happened in my career.”

Roughly $US10 billion worth of writedowns over the 2015 and 2016 financial years suggest he was right for all the wrong reasons.

BHP is expected to get as little as $US10 billion for the business, making it BHP’s grand folly of the resource boom.

Kloppers’ visionary leadership at BHP yielded more than $75 million in cash, shares and performance rights when he departed in 2013. And as far as CBD can tell his post-BHP career has consisted of one board seat with Danish cement engineering group FL Smidth.

Yeager was obviously a true believer. He went on to head Maverick Drilling and Exploration for a modest $11.2 million worth of remuneration in 2013-14.

Times are obviously tough, though. Maverick, which renamed itself Freedom Oil and Gas, announced in its most recent annual report that Yeager has taken a pay cut.

His $1.3 million salary, and $500,000 in annual payments in lieu of retirement benefits, was cut last year to $800,000. Hail, Caesar

Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted has announced that former Veda boss, Nerida Caesar, will join his board on September 1, along with her fabulous scarves no doubt.

Caesar won’t need the money given she cashed in $40 million worth of shares last year when US group Equifax acquired Veda.

CBD was pleased to see that, among her other interesting roles, she is – or was – chairperson of the Sydney Catholic Business Network.

But what exactly does this network do? CBD decided to check the website.

“At a time when the ethical behaviour of all sectors of society is under scrutiny, the Sydney Archdiocese provide an opportunity for members of the business and government community to dialogue together within a Christian ethical framework,” said an explanatory note from his Eminence, Cardinal George Pell, AC, Vatican Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.