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Happiness a $50m performance fee

It took a little while yesterday for the chief executive of Macquarie Atlas Roads, Peter Trent, to say whether or not he thought the $50.1 million performance fee racked up by the toll road group's manager for the year to June 30 was on the high side.

It took a little while yesterday for the chief executive of Macquarie Atlas Roads, Peter Trent, to say whether or not he thought the $50.1 million performance fee racked up by the toll road group's manager for the year to June 30 was on the high side.

After all, the outfit recorded a statutory half-year loss of $106 million.

"The performance fee structure was a structure approved by shareholders but I think the important thing to realise [is] that the performance fee is commensurate with the benefit and value delivered to shareholders through our performance," Trent said, after he was asked whether the fee payable to Macquarie was excessive.

"In looking at a performance fee and if you describe it as being large that means commensurately the benefit delivered to shareholders through the 78 per cent outperformance is commensurately even larger with 85 per cent of the outperformance staying with the shareholders and 15 per cent being payable to the manager.

"But again it's payable over three years in three equal instalments and subject to ongoing performance criteria," he said, at the end of the toll-road group's half year results presentation.

He added the fee structure was approved by shareholders before Atlas's (aka Bad Macquarie Infrastructure Group's) demerger from Intoll (Good MIG) in early 2010.

Pressed again on whether or not he thought the $50.1 million performance fee was over the top, Trent explained: "It's the structure that was approved by shareholders with the mandate to deliver value to investors which is what's happened. The consequence of delivering value to investors has been that there's been a performance fee that has accrued to the manager."

When asked one last time if he thought the fee was fair, Trent said: "I actually think it's a very happy occasion for shareholders to outperform the market by 78 per cent. So I think all the investors, that I certainly speak to, are very, very pleased with the outcome and everyone knew the structure of the performance fees and the incentives that were provided to the manager. The investors are ultimately the judge of whether it's a good outcome or not. And certainly the feedback I get is that it's a very pleasing result."

On top of its performance fees, Atlas also paid $7.8 million in base management fees to Macquarie for the half year.

Since the early 2010 MIG demerger, Macquarie has racked up more than $70 million in fees from the Bad MIG, which has a market capitalisation of around $670 million.

These fees do not include the $50 million in advisory fees Macquarie charged to help out with the MIG demerger.

One happy Atlas shareholder will no doubt be Macquarie, with a 16 per cent stake.

DICKENSIAN TALE

It was difficult to gauge yesterday whether the chairman and founder of the cash-strapped ballistics developer Metal Storm was in fact a half glass empty or a half glass full type of guy.

"The company expects to remain solvent but that expectation may not be met," Terry O'Dwyer said in his address to a Metal Storm shareholder meeting. "Accordingly, there is a risk the company might become insolvent and may therefore need to act appropriately within the law as circumstances dictate quite quickly."

O'Dwyer's comments came after the company, which develops fast-firing weapons, saw its accumulated losses climb above the $110 million mark this year.

"As a Dickens character famously said, 'This is the best of times, this is the worst of times,' so it is at the moment for Metal Storm," O'Dwyer told the meeting.

ALL BRIGHT

Rumours that the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority wanted to dumb down the scholarship named after its former head of policy, the late Brian Gray, were well and truly quashed yesterday.

The regulator named four university honours candidates who had won the $12,500 scholarship and the titles of the subjects they would be researching.

They included: "The determinants of subjective financial well-being and the ability of households to cope with wealth shocks"; "The impact of competition reforms on the characteristics of Australian syndicated loans"; "Modelling dependence in multiple lines of insurance business using the Levy copula"; and "The implied volatility of call and put options as a measure of bank riskiness."

MAKING DOUGH

Struggling baker Goodman Fielder had one growing key performance indicator in its full-year accounts, which contained a $166 million loss.

Goodman disclosed that its former chief executive Peter Margin collected a $1.56 million termination payment when he left the company on April 29. For his final 10 months, Margin also collected $1.29 million in base pay.

The company said the 6.6 per cent lift in Margin's base pay at the start of the 2011 year was "aligned to market average for comparable roles".

Margin got his pay rise despite the Burns Philp spin-off's new chief executive, Chris Delaney, saying in a presentation the "management response was ineffective" to changing market conditions.

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