Carillion board rejected break-up plan in hope of battling on

Aaron Morby 3 weeks ago

Carillion’s board rejected a break-up plan in October last year from accountant advisers Ernst and Young preferring to battle on in the vain hope they could salvage the group.

According to new evidence released by the joint select committee investigating the collapse of Carillion, selling off profitable parts of the business and then entering liquidation could have raised £364m, with the pension schemes getting £218m.

EY warned the board that an unplanned collapse would raise at best £50m, with the pension schemes getting just £12.6m.

Despite the warning Carillion’s board dismissed a break-up as not practical, instead choosing to believe they could successfully restructure.

Board minutes also revealed that EY in August produced a damning report warning the group had too many managerial layers.

It also said there was an issue of management capability and quality to influence the number of major projects on the go at the same time.

The report identified excessive reporting and meetings where quantity of data was hindering the quality of information.

There was a reference to a lack of accountability and a culture of making the numbers.

The EY report also said it found a culture of non-compliance in Carillion around procurement, and criticised the firm for signing up too quickly for jobs in order to secure cashflow.

Rachel Reeves, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, said: “The Carillion directors either took their eye off the ball or they failed to see the warning signs that investors, Carillion staff, and, in this case, EY flagged to them.

“Directors didn’t just drop the ball once, they made a habit of it, giving every indication that it was the long-term failings in the management and corporate governance at Carillion which finally sank the company.”

Frank Field, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “We have heard a lot about the ‘shock’ profit warning in July 2017, as well as the board’s ‘surprise’ and dismay when they were finally forced into administration on January 15 – at public expense because there was not enough left in the company to pay even for that.

“But these papers reveal a wholly deficient corporate culture, studded with low-quality management more interested in meeting targets than obeying rules.

“They reveal also pervasive institutional failings of the kind that don’t appear overnight, long term failings that management must have been well aware of.

“Time and again they ignored and overrode the £millions of advice they paid for, while stiffing the suppliers trying to deliver the goods that might actually have saved the company.

“Instead, they ran it into the ground. This left unsecured creditors like the pensioners and suppliers high and dry. Would you lend money to Carillion on an unsecured basis? They had no choice.”


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