Talk turns to infrastructure

THERE were shades of the Macquarie of old as the word "infrastructure" crept back into the investment bank's shareholder briefings.

THERE were shades of the Macquarie of old as the word "infrastructure" crept back into the investment bank's shareholder briefings.

After blowing up hundreds of millions on infrastructure writedowns following the global financial crisis and making an exit from several troubled satellite funds, the investment bank is again talking up infrastructure as a means to underpin earnings.

Macquarie still ranks as the biggest infrastructure fund manager in the world, and as profit is falling away in other areas, infrastructure is proving a constant income stream. For 2011-12, base fees and bonus fees for managing tollways and utilities generated $1 billion in revenue for Macquarie. And advising stricken governments around the world on asset sales has provided much needed work for the group's investment bankers.

Since the financial crisis, Macquarie has curbed its higher-risk infrastructure deal-making to focus on businesses that give it annuity-style income. This extends to wealth management and the management of infrastructure on behalf of superannuation funds.

With profits and investor returns heading lower, so are bonus payments to the investment bank's top executives. The latest figures show the chief executive, Nicholas Moore, was paid $7.79 million last year in salary, bonus, benefits and vested shares, down from $8.69 million a year earlier.

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