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Transport firm Toll Holdings and takeover target Patrick Corp
have continued a war of words after clashing at a board meeting of
their joint rail venture, Pacific National.
Toll yesterday reiterated its claim that Patrick was using
Pacific National as a diversion to its $4.6 billion hostile bid for
Patrick said a freight arrangement between a Toll subsidiary and
Pacific National in Queensland unduly favoured Toll, but Toll said
the matter was immaterial.
But if the dispute is not resolved Pacific National could be
split up, an outcome Toll opposes.
Patrick chief executive Chris Corrigan said on the weekend that
the break-up of Pacific National was "inevitable".
Toll said yesterday it had unsuccessfully presented two
"constructive and reasonable" resolutions at the board meeting to
try to resolve the disagreement and to bring in a new chief
executive officer for Pacific National. Nonetheless, a Toll
spokesman said the meeting showed that the joint venture was still
A Patrick spokesman said about 10 resolutions were put to the
board and the fact that most were lost proved Pacific National was
not functioning properly. "As of tonight we are unable to agree on
the minutes, we're unable to agree on the accounts, we're unable to
agree on the method of the appointment of a new CEO, and we're
unable to agree on a range of other matters."
Present at the board meeting were Toll managing director Paul
Little and Mark Rowsthorn, who is a Toll-appointed director and the
acting chairman of Pacific National, Mr Corrigan and alternate
Patrick director Robert Dunn.
In the first resolution, Toll proposed that one of three retired
judges - Sir Daryl Dawson, Trevor Morling or John Lockhart - be
appointed to investigate the issues in dispute.
In the second, Toll proposed that current Pacific National CEO
Stephen O'Donnell, who has resigned, be paid out and asked to
vacate his office immediately.
Toll suggested that Patrick operations officer Allan Davies be
appointed CEO, or that Mr Davies and Mr Rowsthorn be appointed
joint acting CEOs.
Patrick rejected the first resolution because it would cut
across an existing arbitration process and was outside the
The Patrick spokesman said Toll knew Mr Davies had already
indicated he would not be available to become CEO. "They [Toll] did
this [nominated Mr Davies] in an attempt to appear reasonable so
they could suggest Mark Rowsthorn's name."
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