Friday, September 19, 2008

"The direction of Macquarie's share price is telling us Macquarie is irrevocably broken."

Pucker up and wear it

September 19, 2008

Brisbane Times (Australia)
Copyright 2008

THINK of it as Nightmare On Martin Place, Breaking Point At Point Piper, or Wipeout On Wolseley Road.

But as investors ponder the future of the Millionaires Factory as the Millionaires Graveyard, it's worth maintaining perspective.

And as fearless leader Nicholas Moore'n'more gets accustomed to life as Nicholas Less-is-more, it's about hunkering down and surviving.

Moore-for-less may have hoped the 9 per cent share price fall on the day he was appointed boss may have been the worst of it. Sadly, nearly 40 per cent this week suggests otherwise. There may even be more'n'more.

Still, it doesn't do much for the ashen faces in the corridors of the GPO to realise Macquarie's gently easing share price has seen the company slip below underperforming local insurer IAG on market capitalisation.

It remains unclear, however, if Macquarie's charitable foundation will start handing out food parcels in Vaucluse, Mosman and Castlecrag.

With the market turmoil leading to a round of mergers, bailouts and collapses as the foundations of listed investment banks crumble - a fact we're sure Moore hasn't failed to notice - all manner of suggestions are emerging about renaming banks. Macquarie Tanked. Merrilly Lynched, aka, the Thundering Herd, or latterly the Steaming, um, Turd.

UBS, already battered by suggestions that it Used to Be Smart, is now wearing the tag of Ugly Balance Sheet.

We suspect readers are familiar with at least one word that rhymes with Citi.
A bit, er, tight

Spare a thought for long-time Macquarie chief pom-pom waver, JPMorgan's Brian "Eat My Shorts" Johnson, who once famously noted how painful it can be to wear Macquarie rugby "shorts". Johnson is discovering Macquarie longs are equally uncomfortable in a credit meltdown. He said yesterday: "The direction of Macquarie's share price is telling us Macquarie is irrevocably broken."

Taking a big gulp

At times like these a good distraction helps.

For Macquarie chairman David Clarke there's his part-time hobby, chairman of Australian Vintage Wines, formerly known as McGuigan Simeon Wines.

Clarke didn't have much of a day yesterday. As Macquarie tanked, he also had to deal with Australian Vintage fessing it had been unable to complete the sale of its mammoth Loxton winery, necessary to ease hefty debts.

But at least Clarke, who for months has insisted the wine group has turned the corner, will have something positive to ponder. If not for the $3 million deposit taken from the Indian wine group Indage, Australian Vintage would have reported a full-year loss.

Frocking up

Australia has a proud tradition involving commercial television, men and dresses. So we were delighted to hear that Seven Network commercial director Bruce McWilliam had bought a dress for boss David Leckie.

Perhaps we should explain.

At a charity function this week, Leckie found himself bidding on a dress being modelled by his wife, Skye. Leckie, chivalrously, offered $4000. But trouble struck when he realised he didn't have his credit card. At least, that's the line we hear was offered.

Quick to the rescue was McWilliam, who handed over his credit card.

We can only wonder if McWilliam tried to claim it as a work expense. We're unsure how he'd go explaining to the bean-counters that he'd bought a dress for the boss.

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© 2008 Brisbane

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