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Macquarie chief cools acquisition talk

Macquarie Group has talked down the prospect of acquisitions to generate growth, with chief executive Nicholas Moore saying prices for potential targets no longer offered ‘‘exceptional returns’’.

The comments come as Macquarie this morning reported a 24 per cent drop in full year profit to $730 million and said it will push ahead with a plan to acquire up to 10 per cent of its shares.

Meanwhile, Mr Moore remained coy on the prospect of further job cuts after the bank shed 1354 positions over the past year, including 426 jobs in the March quarter.

Mr Moore said the prospect of job cuts were a matter for managers of Macquarie’s various businesses.

‘‘The strength of the Macquarie model ... is that we’ve got great managers and they are responding to the market conditions they see. They’re changing their business on a constant basis,’’ Mr Moore told investors.

‘‘It’s been shown during this recent period, they have made difficult calls, they’ll change the business around, they’ll abandon plans.’’


‘‘Its a very dynamic approach,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Moore appeared to cool speculation the bank was in the market looking for acquisitions.

In recent weeks Macquarie has been linked to acquiring ING’s Asian-based asset management arm. Any deal could be worth as much as $575 million.

‘‘There are less opportunities out there than we saw than during the crisis. Things have basically re-priced to a level where we don’t see exceptional returns in the market the way we saw with the motor leasing portfolio,’’ Mr Moore said.

While Macquarie will move ahead with the initial tranche of its share buyback earlier than expected, Mr Moore said if a acquisition opportunity emerged that provided shareholders with higher returns than a buyback ‘‘then we’d be open to another opportunity rather than a buyback’’.