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Asia: Potholes not pitfalls on Macquarie’s road

Nicholas Moore, Macquarie’s chief executive, says difficulties with listed infrastructure funds should not be blown out of proportion. Despite their high public profile, its infrastructure activities are a small proportion of its business. But he’s finding it hard to shake off the notion that the ‘Macquarie model’ is broken. Chris Wright reports.

How close did Macquarie get to the edge?Macquarie: Getting out

IF MACQUARIE GROUP is at a crossroads, it probably already owns it. The financial services group, best known outside Australia for its infrastructure investments from Sydney Airport to the toll section of the M6 motorway in the UK, has had a difficult year and has seen one part of its model – the satellite fund – run into trouble. It has faced belligerent hedge funds intent on bringing down the stock, and indeed the bank; it has taken billions of dollars of impairment charges on its listed funds; and it has faced a certain local Schadenfreude in a country that shows little warmth for tall poppies. But as imitators have gone bankrupt it has stayed profitable throughout, and is already tweaking, evolving and reinventing, just as it has ever since it started out in 1969. "In the time I’ve been covering the stock it’s gone from market-making equity options to gold bullion trading, to R&D tax financing to cross-border structured financing to listed infrastructure," says Brian Johnson, one of Australia’s most highly rated banking analysts, who recently moved from JPMorgan to CLSA.

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