ever anyone's opinion on Macquarie Bank, nobody can deny it is putting the Australian financial services industry on the map.
Financiers across the globe are taking notice of the former Australian division of UK investment bank Hill Samuel, now affectionately referred to as the millionaire's factory.
The first to take note were of course the Poms. Macquarie's attempt to buy the London Stock Exchange was considered by some as merely an expensive marketing ploy - but it had the desired impact.
Previously London City bankers had only ever thought of Dame Edna Everage and corked hats when people talked about Australia. Now they think about Macquarie Bank.
Its investments spread across Europe, the UK, Canada and most recently the US.
US financiers are looking over their shoulders at this Australian upstart, or 'Mackery' as it has been known to be referred to in the US on occasion, and desperately thumbing through their atlases to locate the exact position of Australia on the map.
As our feature shows, Macquarie Bank, through its affiliates Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG) and now US-domiciled Macquarie Infrastructure Partners, is hoovering up US infrastructure assets like never before.
Patriotic Americans are looking askance at these unusual sounding foreigners buying up formerly state-owned utilities, but this has not stopped asset-hungry Macquarie.
MIG paid a whopping US$3.85 billion for a 75-year lease on the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road in June this year. That took its total exposure to North American assets to 55 per cent.
Like most Australian heroes, however, no sooner have they reached the peak of their achievements their fellow countrymen can't wait to knock them off their perch.
I only have to mention Leyton Hewitt and Shane Warne as good recent examples. But with Macquarie Bank the critics continue to wait. Its share price was still hovering around the $70 mark when Investor Weekly went to press and only time will tell whether its latest US adventure will prove to be its first real stumbling block.
It might be worth considering too that Macquarie's former masters, the blue-blooded Hill Samuel, now exist only in people's memories.
As always, if you have any comments on the magazine or the articles we write please don't hesitate to get in touch with me at [email protected]
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