Illustration: John Shakespeare.
COULD ANZ boss Mike Smith be the only chief executive of a listed company captured by Google's cameras?
Some people have been known to pull elaborate stunts, camping out on street corners for a chance at internet fame as a fixture of Google's ground-level Street View mode, available in maps of big cities.
There's the Norwegians who dressed as divers, complete with snorkles, and stalked the Google car; the Pittsburgh performance art group who stage elaborate scenes; and endless mooners, bird-flippers and boob-flashers.
None of that for Smith, who Google's panopticon caught in December 2009 outside his Toorak palace.
Although the face has been blurred, ANZ has confirmed the picture (right) is indeed of its CEO, who is seen supervising the loading or unloading of mysterious pink, or perhaps red, packages from the boot of a Jaguar.
Smith was busy preparing to release the bank's first-half results, due on Wednesday, and bank spokesman Stephen Ries wouldn't say what was inside the mystery bags and couldn't shed any light on when the pic was taken - although it appears to be reasonably early in the morning.
The few facts that are known are these: while Smith is well-known to be a lover of luxury automobiles - he drives a silver Aston Martin convertible - it's not his Jag. Rather, it's a diesel model that belongs to the bank. The bloke doing all the heavy lifting is Smith's driver.
But none of that sheds any light on the contents of Smith's satchels.
Could they contain wads of Hong Kong banknotes left over from Smith's stint as head of HSBC in the Chinese territory? Charity Christmas hampers for orphaned kiddies? Shredded documents? Party pies left over from a staff function?
CBD would love to know.
Taxman hits hard
MILLIONAIRE'S factory Macquarie Group is looking a bit less flash these days, with last week bringing news of a 24 per cent plunge in profit and bonus cheques for top executives that have shrunk like cheap shirts in a hot wash.
Tough times at the holey dollar could even see bankers catching the bus, with chief executive Nicholas Moore on Friday flagging further cuts to travel expenses.
Part of the pain is due to the investment bank's tax bill, which rose in 2012 even as profit fell off the cliff.
Macquarie has long been the finance sector's biggest user of offshore banking units to reduce its effective tax rate, something that has drawn the ire of the ATO.
But Moore laughed heartily at suggestions a reduction in the use of ''asymmetric swaps'' that push Australian profit offshore had anything to do with a 519 basis point rise in Macquarie's effective tax rate, from 22.19 per cent to 27.36 per cent.
Instead, the increased contribution is due to an increase in US business, where profits are taxed at 40 per cent rather than Australia's 30 per cent rate.
When time is a blur
SEEN in the rear vision mirror of more than 45 years running one of the world's top media organisations, events in past decades may appear closer together than they actually were.
How else to explain the epoch-spanning recollections of News Corporation's seemingly immortal patriarch, Rupert Murdoch, during evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into phone hacking in the UK late last week.
Asked a question about News Corp's attempt to gain full ownership of British pay TV operator BSkyB, which was abandoned in July last year after the News of the World phone hacking scandal erupted, the freewheelin' Murdoch took the long view.
''I nearly went broke, and I'm not talking about the company, I'm talking about myself,'' Murdoch said.
''One night in the hands of the bankers I actually mortgaged my own apartment in New York.''
This appears to be a reference not to 2011 but to 1990, when News was rocked by a debt crisis that brought the empire to its knees.
At one stage the future of News hinged on a small American bank that was holding out on refinancing just $10 million of the company's $7.6 billion debt pile.
In order to prove it was serious about solving its problems, News had to merge its loss-making UK pay TV operator Sky with rival British Satellite Broadcasting, thus creating BSkyB.
Which brought Rupert's reverie at Leveson back to the present day.
''But we got through it and we gave great plurality to the British public.
''They now have 600 channels of television, some very good, some were never there before, some better than the BBC, a lot worse, but there we are,'' Mr Murdoch said.