Toll executives can't explain $55m salary payouts

Toll shareholders demand answers on why 390 company executives shared in payouts worth $55 million.

By Samantha Freestone

Toll Holdings shareholders have been refused answers as to why 390 executives shared in mystery payouts worth $55 million.

The question was raised at Toll’s annual general meeting in Melbourne, with shareholders giving a standing ovation to "shareholder activist" and founder Stephen Mayne when he asked how the company justifies the "showering of money" detailed in the remuneration report.

Toll de-merged Patrick and other businesses late in 2006, Mayne says, with "casino assumptions" made as to the future of the share price.

Chairman Ray Horsburgh and later Managing Director Paul little were quizzed as to why they never sought a second opinion, with Horsburgh saying only that he "stands by the board's decision".

Little got hot under the collar and refused to elaborate after several attempts to get an answer were quashed.

Based on advice given by an "independent" report by KPMG — the same group employed to execute Toll internal auditing — the value of the future share price should have included Brambles' small stake in Toll, Mayne said on behalf of the shareholders.

Mayne reveals that a shareholder sent him a report outlining the information, whereby KPMG assumed huge growth in Toll shares which never eventuated.

On page 131 of the Toll Holdings annual report, Partner with KPMG Paul Shannon writes that "we have audited the remuneration report" adding that "it is our responsibility to express an opinion on the remuneration report, based on our audit conducted in accordance with auditing standards".

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