It’s not often that James Packer talks to Fairfax or deigns to make himself available for a newspaper profile of any description, but he made an exception for The AFR’s magazine cover story on new Macquarie Group CEO Nicholas Moore.

So, while Moore paid homage to his key client by holding Macquarie Group’s AGM at Packer’s Crown Casino on Wednesday, Australia’s third richest man returned the favour with the following tributes, starting with their first meeting in 1996:

Nicholas was putting an ostentatious transaction to us – which I won’t go into but we didn’t pursue. But he was really impressive. I thought this guy is one of the greats; but he thinks differently to the vast majority of other people who come through the door.

Nicholas thinks things are possible that no one else thinks are possible…he doesn’t focus on the hurdles; he keeps his eye on the destination.

He is a really focused individual with a seriously high IQ. Nicholas and Alan were to a large degree a double act…This is not an unproven guy; he comes with a 20-year track record and he will just go from running most of the bank to running all of the bank.

There are several strange features of the article. Firstly, none of the critics are named and even Alistair Lucas, Moore’s great internal rival who is now stealing plenty of market share running Golden Sachs JB Were’s Melbourne investment banking business, has heaped on the praise and revealed he retains his shares in the bank. Bizarre.

Given the current hostile environment towards tax havens, it was also not a good time for Moore’s aggressive tax structuring history to get lauded, especially by incoming ASX chairman David Gonski, given he was in the room advising Frank Lowy when those notorious Liechtenstein structures were set up.

The AFR has long been regarded as captive of the Macquarie Machine. Deputy editor Brett Clegg spent a couple of years at the bank and witness the way the paper is still yet to seriously question the huge BrisConnections tollroad float which is being flipped into the public markets because Macquarie Infrastructure Group and the bank itself have declined to take on the risk.

It doesn’t help that Fin Review reporter Lisa Carapiet is the daughter of Macquarie executive Michael Carapiet, who has replaced Moore in charge of the huge investment banking and funds division which took on the $4.5 billion BrisConnections deal.

Sydney used to be regarded as a town where the players sided with the Packer or Murdoch camps. Macquarie is now clearly in camp Packer as it continues to sue The Australian for defamation.

Have a listen to the the discussion of the defo battle at the Macquarie AGM on Wednesday and you’ll understand why the bank is adversely headlined again today over the Beaconsfield Gold saga on page one of Rupert Murdoch’s Australian flagship.

*Check out the Mayne Report’s full Macquarie Model as Dead Parrot video and listen to the AGM exchange about why Peter Costello hasn’t yet joined the Millionaire Factory.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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