QR revamped, but is it for sale?

Rail transport and logistics company, QR Limited, has announced plans for a new corporate structure and new appointments to its senior management team. 

QR Chairman, John Prescott, said the proposal involved the development of specific business entities within QR to improve focus and outcomes for its newly redefined Freight, Passenger, Network and Services businesses.

Mr Prescott said the objectives of the changes were to:

    * Improve safety, customer service and operating performance; and

    * Provide flexibility for QR to continue exploring opportunities with potential private sector partners for its freight business, where they would bring scope, scale or expertise.   

“We need to have better focus on customer outcomes, be more closely aligned with markets in which we operate and improve our financial performance,” Mr Prescott said.

“The new structure recognises that QR has a portfolio of businesses operating in distinctly different markets. They need to be separate, customer-focussed and absolutely accountable for safety, performance and bottom line results.

“Each business will have a profit and loss statement and balance sheet, and be responsible for cash management and other results.”

The new structure sees the establishment of the four major business units named above, supported by a focussed corporate core of four functions: Finance, Risk, Human Resources and, in a major new initiative, Marketing. These changes will be bolstered by significant new management appointments announced today by QR’s new CEO Lance Hockridge. These include:

    * Deborah O’Toole as Chief Finance Officer, commencing at QR this week

    * Stephen Cantwell as Group Executive General Manager QR Freight (previously Chief Operating Officer),

    * Michael Carter as Executive General Manager QR Network (previously Acting Group General Manager Network Access), and

    * Glen Mullins as acting Executive General Manager Services (previously Group General Manager of Infrastructure Services)   

“Stephen Cantwell will add management strength and expertise to the freight business. Stephen has done an outstanding job in rolling out QR’s national freight strategy to date. We believe he is well respected by customers and will bring a strong focus to this critical area.”

Mr Hockridge also said he expected to shortly announce the appointment of the senior marketing executive. The new business model is expected to be in place by early 2008.

“All the work done has reinforced QR’s potential in building a successful national transport business but significant changes are needed. We are not simply restructuring QR, we are building a new business,” Mr Prescott said. “We’ve built a national platform in recent years, it’s now time to put in place the strengths to carry each business forward.”

The restructure is widely seen as the first step in a possible partial sale or sharemarket float next year.

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