Macquarie chief in Sevens heaven

Macquarie chief in Sevens heaven

Macquarie Private Bank head Jay O'Neil is winging his way to Hong Kong. But his American buddy Eric Schimpf, the recently demoted global head of Macquarie Private Wealth, will remain knee-deep in spreadsheets.

As luck would have it for O'Neil, the Hong Kong Sevens are on this weekend. It's a chance for globetrotting financiers, lobbyists and expats to indulge in a festival not too dissimilar from the bacchanalia. The partying kicks off on Friday when the town turns into a fancy dress party for freaks. By Saturday, the scene inside the rugby stadium looks like a pornography set for reptiles.

We can only wonder why Schimpf or the silver donut's head of banking and financial services, Peter Maher, will not be joining O'Neil. After all, Maher is a Kiwi rugbyhead and Schimpf will be in need of a break.

It was under Schimpf's watch that Macquarie Private fell foul of the corporate regulator in January. That followed a year-long investigation that found Macquarie Private had failed to keep adequate records since 2008, and that it had not made sure it was giving the right advice to the right clients.

The annual pilgrimage will be a chance for bankers to forget their spreadsheets, and for at least one American to forget the recent past.

On the mark

Anyone looking for tips on the federal election later this year should look no further than billionaire rag-trader Solomon Lew and his side-kick Mark McInnes. The pair were prescient in their attack on the Gillard government on Thursday morning - hours before Labor old guard Simon Crean triggered an unsuccessful leadership spill.

The retailers were in unison in their attack on Gillard's recent trip to western Sydney in support of local jobs, arguing government policy - in not lowering the GST threshold for online purchases - was favouring overseas retailers and undermining their business.

"It's very hypocritical of the PM to say she's interested in jobs," McInnes bellowed. "Frankly, I think it's a disgraceful position to take when what's really going on in the retail industry is that there's an unfair advantage for international retailers over Australian retailers."

For the record, Premier Investments' profits were up more than 20 per cent to $46.5 million for the half year.


Interesting figures are emerging from the still-warm carcass of Peter Drake's Gold Coast property empire. Accounts lodged for LM Investment Management show it paid tax of just $74,415 in 2011, on revenues of $16 million.

Of course, it is important to remember that LM's contribution still amounts to more than what Google coughs up in tax in Australia. The same year, Google paid $74,176 in tax - even though estimates of its annual advertising revenue here reach about $2 billion.

Flying the flag

Property stalwart Richard Colless has finally got his hands on a very important item, and for once it is not a new office block or pub.

As chairman of the Swans, Colless was given the AFL Premiership flag at the launch of the season at the Crown on Wednesday. He bears the responsibility, and much consternation from Melburnians, of taking it to Sydney, where it will be unfurled to fans at the SCG on April 6.

Colless, who is the former chairman of ING Management, has recently joined forces with Moelis & Co bankers Andrew Martin and fellow Swans director Andrew Pridham to head a new property fund that is expected to swell in size to $500 million.

Another Swans director and head of Folkestone Property, Greg Paramor, will no doubt be at the ground to "cheer, cheer" when the flag is sent up the pole.

Another property bod, Bob Johnston, is facing a tough season battling constant speculation about GPT making a tilt for his beloved Australand.

Fortunately, Johnston's pay package will help take his mind away from the distractions. Australand's annual report shows he reaped $2.8 million last year, up from $2.7 million a year earlier.

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