We all know that Friday is the best day to drop bad news, so recently-floated investment bank Babcock and Brown played a smart game in tabling its 2004 annual report late last week.

The figures show that Macquarie Bank has certainly been well and truly surpassed on the pay scales, as no fewer than ten different B&B directors and executives walked out with more than $3 million in 2004. The total for the ten was $57.23 million, meaning the average was a staggering $5.72 million. Check out the full list here:

Phillip Green, CEO: $10.3m
Steven Zissus, US boss: $10.26m
Eric Lucas: $7.07m
James Babcock, co-founder: $4.97m
Richard Topfer: $4.67m
Peter Hofbauer: $4.65m
Daniel Brickman: $4.1m
Tim Duncan: $3.9m
Michael Maxwell: $3.77m
Martin Rey, director and European boss: $3.54m

Shares in Babcock were 11c weaker at $10.06 this morning, giving it a market capitalisation of $2.3 billion. It’s still dwarfed by its bigger rival Macquaire Bank, which is today valued at $11.2 billion.

One interesting person to watch inside the Babcock tent is independent deputy chairman Elizabeth Nosworthy, who owns $1 million worth of shares and was paid $111,300 last year. The former Freehills parter and Telstra director used to be chairman of Prime Infrastructure, the B&B associated listed fund which owns the much talked about Dalrymple Bay coal terminal near Mackay. When she chaired Prime, it agreed to pay B&B $25 million for advisory work on its $1.7 billion Powerco deal in New Zealand and it wasn’t long after this that she quit to take up the deputy chair at B&B.

Nosworthy is also a non-executive director of General Property Trust, which is in the process of severing its longstanding relationship with Lend Lease and embarking on a $1 billion property joint venture with B&B. There’s plenty of scope for conflict of interest in these arrangements and we trust that Elizabeth has been leaving the room at all the appropriate moments.

Peter Fray

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