Transurban appoints new CEO(3)

Scott Charlton (pictured) has been hired to take the helm at the Australian toll road operator as a replacement for Chris Lynch, who resigned in January. Charlton, the former chief operating officer at developer Lend Lease, will assume the role in July this year.

Scott Charlton has been appointed as the new chief executive officer at Transurban, the Australian toll road operator. The appointment of Charlton, who takes up the position in July this year, comes after what a statement described as “a comprehensive selection process”.

Charlton arrives at Transurban from Australian developer Lend Lease, where he has been chief operating officer. Prior to that, he was chief financial officer at another Australian developer, Leighton Holdings, from 2007 to 2009, and was a managing director at Deutsche Bank from 1995 to 2003.

The statement hailed Charlton’s “wealth of experience across the infrastructure and financial sector”. It added that Lynch, who announced his resignation as chief executive officer in January, would remain with Transurban into July in order to assist with the transition. The post comes with a A$1.875 million (€1.46 million; $1.95 million) fixed annual salary plus short- and long-term incentives totalling just over A$2.8 million.

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.

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 (CPPIB) and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) – 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.

Towards the end of last month, Australian fund manager CP2 – which had been part of the CPPIB/OTPP takeover bids – sold a 7.86 percent stake in Transurban on behalf of two clients, thought to be Denmark’s ATP and the UK’s Universities Superannuation Scheme. As part of this sale, Australian sovereign wealth fund the Future Fund was reported to have upped its stake from 4.4 percent to almost 7 percent.