Home' Future Building Australian Infrastructure Review : July 2011 Contents 6
Volume 2 Number 1
The playing field has levelled: Brecht
‘Lend Lease has been well received in the
business units. It makes our business units more
attractive employers, because they are part of a large
By folding in Valemus’ constituent businesses,
Lend Lease takes the reins of a company that in any
one year would bid $20 billion worth of work. At the
end of last year it had $5.3 billion of secured work in
hand. It had another $1.7 billion pending.
‘Lend Lease had internal plans to get into
engineering and infrastructure,’
‘Acquiring our business gives them a big chunk of
Valemus had already opened offices in Western
Australia to vie for work from the likes of Fortescue,
Rio Tinto and elsewhere in the resource sector.
Abigroup already works on Rio Tinto’s rail and port
The infrastructure business may be well placed to
take on marine work for Lend Lease on its Barangaroo
project in Sydney, building on Baulderstone’s work
at Port Botany, Brecht said.
Diversification and enhancing the joined
company’s capacity to take on work were drivers
behind the takeover. That diversity will help shield
the business from slumping demand in some parts of
the market. Commercial construction will likely be
a laggard this year, while infrastructure promises a
steadier stream of work.
‘Non-residential work is dropping off, but in
the infrastructure space opportunities are plentiful,’
Brecht says he’s counting on support from his
existing senior management, including Abigroup
Managing Director, David Jurd, and Baulderstone
head, Ian Luck, to help drive the integration and
compete for new business.
David Marchant, previously Chief Executive
Officer of Australian Rail Track Corporation, took
over as head of Conneq in March from Mark Elliott,
who stepped down after nine years in the role.
Teams and the importance of human capital
feature prominently in Brecht’s thinking. Throughout
the interview with Future Building, he stresses
how attracting and retaining people, as well as
being sensitive to how teams work together, is a
precondition of long-term success.
‘We put project teams together all the time,’ he
‘You need to match and complement them;
you don’t just say “I’ve got these blokes free at the
moment, I’ll put them together”. There’s no point
putting together blokes who hate each other’s guts.
As long as the project manager has a good team,
they will probably pull off a good job.’
He says that the secret of success for a CEO in
the infrastructure space is being across the detail and
knowing how projects are put together. Brecht says
he’s happy to let managers develop their own style,
but he isn’t afraid to step in when bad decisions look
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