Lendlease will focus on boosting its offshore presence to contribute 35 per cent of group earnings in the coming years, boosted by its $38 billion global development pipeline, shareholders were told at the annual general meeting in Sydney on Friday. Some of the developments include the $6 billion Barangaroo South project in Sydney and possibly the controversial East West Link in Melbourne. Lendlease chairman David Crawford was grilled on the status of the East West Link, of which the consortium of Lendlease, Bouygues, Acciona and Capella Capital won the initial tender for the project. However, they could be stopped if there is a change of government in Victoria.
He told shareholders that the consortium would “deal with the issues” as they arose and could not “second guess” the outcome of elections nor any new policy initiatives. “It’s our core business and we will work with the government of the day,” he said. “Lendlease will protect the interests of its stakeholders at all costs. We have a contract that is the subject of a dispute in the courts. We don’t profess to have a view on whether the courts will or will not uphold that contract.” Mr Crawford said Lendlease was a “citizen of the state and we cannot second guess what is in politicians’ minds one day and 30 minutes later”.
In the resolutions at the meeting, shareholders overwhelmingly approved a capital restructure to allocate $400.5 million to the unlisted Lendlease Trust. That cash could be used by the independently-run trust to buy a stake in the Barangaroo office towers from Lendlease. Lendlease chief executive Steve McCann said market conditions for the group remained sound, boosted by a still positive view on the residential market. He said inner-city apartment sales in Melbourne and Sydney were strong and he was confident the positive conditions would continue for some time. “In Melbourne, we have been surprised how strong urban regeneration has been and the apartments at Barangaroo in Sydney are selling fast,” Mr McCann told Fairfax Media after the meeting. He said nothing had changed in the negotiations with James Packer’s Crown group regarding the hotel and casino project at Barangaroo, except that the area is complicated and he “continues to work closely with all the owners and stakeholders”.