Janet Holmes a Court says John Holland's latest acquisition reinforces her view that parent Leighton Holdings will not sell parts of the business to pay down debt.
Mrs Holmes a Court, who chairs John Holland, was commenting on continuing sell-off speculation. On Monday Leighton announced it had completed the acquisition of Macmahon Holdings' construction arm, through its subsidiary John Holland.
"John Holland is the jewel in the Leighton crown . . . we would be crazy to sell it," she told _WestBusiness _. "We have so many high quality businesses inside John Holland, so many areas that have good growth opportunities."
Mrs Holmes a Court includes in that list of divisions John Holland Aviation Services (JHAS), which continues to be the focus of speculation that the Spanish-controlled Leighton wants to sell it.
The Hamish Tyrwhitt-led Leighton has begun shedding non-core businesses to reduce debt following a spate of corporate disasters and also to pay dividends to investors including its parent, Germany's Hochtief.
Those dividends are needed by Hochtief to funnel to its own parent, Spain's debt-ridden ACS.
A spokesman for Leighton refused to guarantee JHAS's future, saying only that the construction side of John Holland was safe.
"John Holland's construction business is not being considered for sale," the spokesman said when asked about John Holland more broadly and JHAS in particular.
"John Holland is a very valuable part of Leighton Group and is doing a very fine job for us."
Macmahon said it expects to make just $2 million on the sale of its troubled construction business because of $12 million in redundancy costs. This month it declared it would become a dedicated, full-service mining contractor.
After adjustments for new work and projects, Macmahon said its Leighton deal would be worth $20 million, and produce proceeds of $14 million after transferring some employee liabilities to Leighton.
But Macmahon expects to incur $12 million in restructuring costs for an unspecified number of staff."This is a significant day . . . as we refocus the business on our successful full-service mining operations," chief executive Ross Carroll said. The effective date of the sale is December 31, pending shareholder approval in February.
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