There’s a momentous changing of the guard at Macquarie Bank with veteran CEO Allan Moss set to retire after delivering his final full year profit announcement in May, making way for deal-maker extraordinaire Nicholas Moore to take over.

The announcement was made as part of a profit update in which the Millionaire Factory re-affirmed a promised 23% jump in its full year pre-tax profit target of $1.8 billion, but warned the second half figure was likely to be similar to the previous second half of $773 million due to slowing asset sales.

Moss and Moore both join the executive market movers club because Macquarie Bank shares tumbled 7% this morning, although they’ve blurred things nicely by combining it with an 111-page operational update on a day when the market is down more than 2%.

The gushing statements were flying in the formal announcement of the handover although Moss said retiring after almost 15 years was a “very difficult decision”.

Having built a personal fortune exceeding $200 million, surely the 58-year-old Moss would have seen the logic of retiring as an investment banking legend and handing over to Moore – the greatest rainmaker in the history of Australian investment banking.

However, it is ironic that Moore finally ascends the throne a few months before his 50th birthday just as the model that he pioneered – buying infrastructure assets directly and then putting them in separate listed funds – comes under threat.

Whatever Moore achieves as CEO, he’ll still be remembered as the bloke who drove a $200 billion global infrastructure binge and turned a bunch of Martin Place bankers into the world’s largest managers of assets such as airports and tollroads.

Managing about $150 billion in debt across the empire in a credit-constrained world will almost certainly be his opening challenge as CEO – along with attempting to extract at least $200 million in fees out of the Rio Tinto defence.

There is no information on Moore’s package and we won’t see the detail of any golden goodbye for Moss until 2008-09 because he retires on May 24 – after delivering the full-year profit for the year to March 30.

Moss collected a tasty $33.5 million in the previous financial year whilst Moore was snapping on his heels with $32.9 million – more than 80% of which is profit-related and cash.

After being denied for years, Moore finally gets to join the main Macquarie Group board today and he will be replaced in the Macquarie Capital division by Michael Carapiet who collected more than $20 million last year.

Today’s Mayne Report video features John McEnroe in a preview to next week’s contentious AWB AGM.

Peter Fray

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