Lynch quits Transurban(3)

Four years after the joined the Australian toll road operator as chief executive officer, Chris Lynch announced he will step down from the company in July. A replacement has yet to be found.

Chris Lynch, the chief executive officer of Australian toll road operator Transurban, announced his resignation today, adding it will take effect from July 2012.

Lynch joined Transurban in February 2008 and is widely credited for helping to beef up the toll road operator’s balance sheet thanks to his conservative growth strategy. “Moody’s considers that Mr. Lynch has been highly influential in implementing a conservative risk management platform at Transurban, with a measured and cautious approach to business growth and capital management,” Maurice O’Connell, a senior analyst at ratings agency Moody’s, commented in a statement.

Lindsay Maxsted, Transurban’s chairman, also paid tribute to the departing chief executive. “Chris will leave Transurban as a leader in its sector with a strong balance sheet, a vibrant growth pipeline and a group of excellent leaders in place,” Maxsted said, adding: “Transurban’s clear and concise strategy will remain.”

Maxsted said Lynch’s replacement will be announced “in the near future” and could be promoted internally or recruited externally. For his part, Lynch did not disclose what he plans to do next, saying only that he is looking forward to “moving onto the next stage in my professional career”.

Lynch’s tenure at the helm of Transurban, while appreciated, also had its controversial moments. In 2009 and 2010, two of the firm’s then largest shareholders – Canadian pensions Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board – repeatedly tried to take over the Australian toll road operator. 

They were steadily rebuffed by Lynch and his board of directors on the basis that their offers undervalued Transurban. The successive refusals eventually led the two shareholders to dump their stakes in the Australian toll road operator.

Transurban’s main assets are located in Australia, where it operates several toll roads including the CityLink toll road, the M2 Hills motorway, Lane Cove tunnel and the Westlink M7 toll road. In addition, it owns interests in two other motorways – the Eastern Distributor and the M5 motorway, both in Sydney – through a subsidiary. 

But the firm is also involved in some high profile overseas deals, such as near-$1 billion public-private partnership with the US state of Virginia for a highway expansion, set to reach financial close during the second quarter of the year.