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Macquarie cracks $100 share barrier with CEO Nic Moore's stake hitting $220m

Anyone choking on their cornflakes over the obscene pay at our big four banks might gain a bit of perspective by looking at the financial Everest that Nic Moore's Macquarie Group has just scaled. 

The investment bank, dubbed the vampire Kangaroo by Rupert Murdoch's British press, finally scaled the $100 share price barrier on Monday closing at $100.20. 

It was a feat Macquarie first threatened to achieve more than a decade ago, just before the financial crisis.

That economic tsunami smashed Macquarie's share price to below $16 as its business model blew up in the face of a funding crisis that imperilled the entire sector. 

Macquarie then gave a demonstration of the financial swashbuckling that had formed its reputation. As one of the banks allowed to use the government's AAA rating to raise debt, Macquarie used the fresh funding to buy loan books being offloaded by distressed global rivals on the cheap. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Technically.  

Macquarie's business, and share price, were on a roll again. 


And the stock has received a fresh boost as investors embrace the new, improved, Macquarie that is now prospering as a major global infrastructure player targeting the green energy sector. 

And this has all provided a great ride for Moore, who took over as CEO in May 2008 just before the stock reached its nadir. 

The dizzying recovery in the Macquarie share price means his shares in the group are now worth more than $220 million.    

It puts the $18.7 million worth of remuneration he received last year – which will certainly be beaten this year – in perspective. 

And the CEOs of the Commonwealth Bank, NAB, ANZ and Westpac, are not even at the starter's gate when it comes to this particular pay race. 

Westpac boss, Brian Hartzer, led the also-rans with remuneration totalling just $6.7 million last year.  


While the rest of his crew were trying to head off a further bank inquiry by the rebellious Nats, Treasurer Scott Morrison was spotted on Monday afternoon heading into the the RBA's Martin Place  offices.

A spot of tea with the Guv Philip Lowe, perhaps? 

Dog house 

The corporate pup has been particularly busy of late. On Monday, ASIC "accepted a request" from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) bean counter, Stephen James Bourke, to cancel his registration as a registered company auditor following his decision to retire. 

So why did this warrant a statement from ASIC? 

Bourke headed the audit of Vocation Ltd's financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2014.

In November the following year it collapsed, and you can imagine the recriminations for anyone who gave the group a clean bill of health. 

It is the sort of thing the now-retired ASIC chairman, Greg Medcraft, might have been referring to when he blasted the top four accounting firms this month for poor audit work saying it could be a "canary in the coal mine" for the next financial crisis.

His former employer took a dim view of Bourke's work. 

"ASIC believes that Mr Bourke should have gathered further audit evidence post-balance date and prior to signing the audit opinion concerning Vocation's dispute with the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development," it said. 

"Accordingly, ASIC believes that Mr Bourke did not carry out or perform adequately or properly the duties of an auditor in this respect." 

Bourke will not be walking away from the mess just yet. PwC has been named as a defendant in the class action brought against Vocation.

In other news, Peter Roach the former chairman of the collapsed health-food chain Healthzone, will be eating porridge for the next four years after being given a jail sentence for fraud and related offences. 

According to the ASIC release, Roach obtained a $1 million director's loan from Healthzone – via the Commonwealth Bank – to buy shares. He used the cash to settle a private transaction and failed to buy the stock.  

Roach authorised two ASX announcements to be made that falsely stated that he had purchased shares, and it looks like he got found out in the subsequent collapse, which left the Commonwealth Bank holding the can for a $32 million debt. 

No stars 

It is very important to read the small print when some investors buy and sell certain stocks. 

Like the announcement stating that the James Packer-backed Ellerston Capital ceased to be a substantial shareholder in the casino operator once coveted by Packer's Crown: Star Entertainment Group. 

Ellerston announced on Monday its stake had fallen below 5 per cent after selling $56 million worth of shares this month. 

The investment group run by the Packer family's trusted confidant, Ashok Jacob, noted we should not infer anything from this sale about the motives of Ellerston's investors, without naming names. 

"We note that the shares reported in this form are owned by third party accounts under the discretionary investment management of Ellerston Capital Ltd," said its notice to the ASX. 

"None of Ellerston Capital Ltd, nor any of its shareholders or any of their associates hold a direct interest in any shares disclosed in this form." 

Did we all get that? There is absolutely no need to link Packer's name to this particular transaction.  

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