Greener BeeGreen HolidaysTim Bishop says Macquarie Group is a big believer in green energy

It isn’t easy being green. Especially if you happen to be called Macquarie Group and everyone characterises your business as nothing more than a money-making machine for investment bankers. Or, in the words of Rupert Murdoch‘s UK newspaper The Sunday Times: “The vampire kangaroo”.

At Tuesday’s annual operational briefing, the head of Macquarie Capital, Tim Bishop, tried to talk up the company’s enthusiasm for all things green – even popping up on a YouTube video.

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“What’s going on in green energy globally is quite an exciting story through Europe and now increasingly in Asia,” the investment banking boss told former ABC veteran Monica Attard.

“We are big believers in that and we have the expertise to pursue those opportunities.”

Unfortunately, the YouTube clip does not include Attard’s follow-up question about the fate of its contentious £2 billion bid to acquire the UK’s Green Investment Bank.

Some former politicians are worried that Macquarie will asset strip the business and abandon its environmental purpose.

“This is the worst kind of company to be entrusting maintaining the integrity and green mission of the bank,” was the word from the UK’s former business secretary, Vince Cable.

Macquarie was announced as the preferred bidder last year but the announcement of a successful deal failed to appear last month amid reports that alternatives are being considered to the Macquarie deal.

Macquarie’s biggest problem appears to be the manure-like smell from its ownership of Thames Water, which has not impressed the locals with its ability to generate high amounts of cash for the vampire kangaroo but almost no tax.

Taking a toll

Toll road operator, Transurban announced that its revenue, earnings and dividends will continue to rise after unveiling a booming half-year result on Tuesday.

But Transurban’s chief toll collector, Scott Charlton, also notches up five years in July, which means it is time for people to ask those pesky questions about his future.

Asked whether he had other mountains to climb (hint, hint), Charlton burst into laughter before telling an analyst that “it has been a great ride and I am really engaged”.

“I serve at the pleasure of the board and the shareholders,” he said.

And why would Charlton jump ship now when Transurban’s ability to clip the ticket on Australia’s toll roads is going gangbusters, along with his pay packet.

Last year he nearly tripled his $2.1 million base salary to take home remuneration totalling $6.28 million – up from the previous year’s $5.7 million.

And according to Transurban’s dividend guidance, he could pick up another $736,000 in franked dividends this year on top of another record pay packet.

‘Til death do us part

Yet another Aussie giant is scaling back its global ambitions after deciding the going was a bit tougher than expected.

Australia’s largest listed funeral operator, Invocare, has decided to close its Southern Californian funeral business after a two-year trial.

Invocare said it came to the conclusion that its US business was unlikely to break even by the mid-2018 time frame and within the $US8 million budget allocated to the project.

It is a pretty disappointing result when you consider America’s love of guns and fast food. Its gun-related death toll per head is 10 times that of Australia.

“We have been very clear with the market about the capital discipline we would apply to assessing the US opportunity,” said Invocare’s chief executive, Martin (Wyatt) Earp.

Invocare’s discipline was a bit more lax when it came to keeping investors updated about the interests of its new director, Robyn Stubbs.

She joined the group on New Year’s Day, but the funeral operator took until Monday, February 6, to lodge her initial director’s interest notice.

“The late lodgement was due to an inadvertent administrative oversight, in part due to the absence on annual leave of some staff and managers,” said Invocare in response to an ASX query just hours after announcing its withdrawal from the US.

“Further rigour and oversight will be applied, especially during holiday periods when a full complement of responsible administrative staff or managers may not be present.”

Another remedy might be a request that the board avoid any new appointments, or share trading during the summer break or school holidays.

Got a tip? ckruger@fairfaxmedia.com.au


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