Macquarie Bank: Adapting as always
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Macquarie Bank: Adapting as always

Macquarie’s cherished reputation for being able to adapt to changing circumstances has been put to the test like never before by Covid-19.

Macquarie chief executive Shemara Wikramanayake

Australian banks in general are coming through the pandemic in good shape, being predominantly domestic operations in a country whose only severe lockdown was in the state of Victoria.

It is not so easy for Macquarie, which earns 68% of its income internationally, 31% of it in the virus-hit Americas and 25% in Europe, Middle East and Africa (principally Europe).

Macquarie’s interim numbers for the first half of financial year 2021 – which, for Macquarie, means the six months to September 30, 2020, a period coinciding entirely with the pandemic – showed A$985 million ($718 million) of net profit, down 32% on the same period a year earlier. The market had expected a worse decline, and Macquarie shares jumped on the news.

Credit and impairment charges were up considerably, from A$139 million to A$447 million, and annualized return on equity fell from 14.5% in financial 2020 to 9.5%. But the impression was of slowdown rather than reversal.

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