They’ve really made it now. Macquarie Bank has been getting all sorts
of publicity in the UK through it’s stop-start bid for the London Stock Exchange, but today they have featured on page one of the Wall Street Journal in a story which began as follows:
Last year, the city of Chicago was in a bind. It faced
a $220 million budget deficit and its credit rating was under review
for a possible downgrade. Voters feared a jump in property taxes.
Then help came from a surprising place: Australia. Macquarie Bank,
Australia’s biggest homegrown investment bank, organized a deal to take
over Chicago’s historic Skyway toll road under a 99-year lease for $1.8
billion – hundreds of millions of dollars more than some Chicago
officials thought it would fetch.
The Windy City’s windfall helped it plug a budget hole and set up a
$500 million rainy-day fund. The city even funded a project to upgrade
the card-catalogue system for its libraries. The Australians, meanwhile,
started collecting commuters’ coins – and quickly raised the road’s
So far Australian governments have only commissioned Macquarie to build
new tollroads. Why doesn’t the Iemma Government sell Macquarie the
right to collect tolls on the Sydney Harbour Bridge to save its
struggling budget just like Chicago did?
Further on in the piece, Paul Keating would have enjoyed these lines:
Australia, once a marginal player beyond its own borders,
is emerging as a major financial centre. Australia can trace its new
wealth to a 14-year
economic boom underpinned by a 1992 law that required workers to set
aside big chunks of their income for retirement. While Australian
households, like those in the US, still spend more than they earn,
the nation is amassing a huge investment war chest.
The story also points out that tiny Singapore has a $220 billion global
investment fund through Temasek Holdings. Hmmm, the Australian Government’s negative net value
of about $30 billion doesn’t compare too favourably with that, despite
all of Peter Costello’s hot air about the Future Fund, including an
additional $2 billion injection detailed in today’s papers.
Meanwhile, Macquarie is also getting plenty of attention from The Australian
about its Aboriginal land funds. If Bob Carr’s government and
corporate giants like Foster’s and Orica keep getting cleaned up by
Macquarie, what chance do the Indigenous Land Councils have? Whatever
happens, The Australian will report developments every step of
the way for as long as the Millionaire Factory continues to sue the
paper over the Allstate Exploration saga in Tasmania.