As infrastructure funds, developers and asset managers got to grips with the collapse of construction giant Carillion, it turned to the hands of UK politicians to assess the fallout.
As a contractor that had managed both public and private infrastructure projects, some on the UK parliament’s Work and Pensions and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committees were understandably angry, none more so than Labour’s Frank Field, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, who said Carillion’s executive team “was stocked with fantasists”.
Field’s barb was particularly aimed at former chief executive Richard Howson, who was said to have “misled” Qatari developers and kept on by Carillion as an executive following a profit warning last July.
“It takes a special kind of optimism – that of a man kept on after his sacking to keep up morale – to classify money one hopes to earn in the future, on a challenging project, as money ‘owed’ to you,” Field’s rant continued. “He cannot tell the difference between money he’d like to be paid, he wishes would be paid, and money that is actually owed to him.”
UK asset owners may be fearful of Jeremy Corbyn’s nationalisation plans, but they probably wouldn’t want to get into Frank Field’s bad books either.