Macquarie Group’s Nicholas Moore will retire as managing director and chief executive after a decade at the helm of the group, and be replaced by the highly rated Shemara Wikramanayake, the current group head of Macquarie Asset Management which she built into the company’s most reliable earnings provider.
Ms Wikramanayake will become the second female of a major Australian bank – Gail Kelly was the first at St George and then Westpac. Macquarie Group shares fell 2.6% to 4121.70, which is the sort of fall you can expect on the change of leadership at a successful company like Macquarie.
Mr Moore will step down from the boards of Macquarie Group and Macquarie Bank effective November 30 after delivering the group’s first-half results, the company said in a statement to the ASX on Thursday morning.
Ms Wikramanayake started at Macquarie in 1987 (a wobbly year in itself with the huge market crash that October) and worked with Mr Moore in Corporate Services, before establishing Macquarie Capital.
At the time it included advisory, infrastructure funds, corporate leasing and lending, and cash equities parts of Macquarie which were gradually moved or built into separate businesses, or merged into others.
She became head of Macquarie Asset Management in 2008 (another big year with the GFC hitting hard) when Mr Moore became CEO. Macquarie’s asset management business made $A1.69 billion of Macquarie’s $A2.56 billion total net profit in the year to March 31.
In the statement announcing his departure, Mr Moore said he had "worked with Ms Wikramanayake for more than 30 years and I am reassured in deciding to retire later this year that I leave Macquarie in a strong position and safe hands".
Ms Wikramanayake, 56, will head a financial group that’s transformed itself under the direction of Mr Moore and that of his predecessor, Allen Moss from an Australian investment bank into a global asset manager that now earns more than two-thirds of its income overseas. Its asset management, financial services and corporate finance businesses now account for 70% of earnings.
Ms Wikramanayake was Macquarie’s second-highest paid executive last year, receiving a total pay packet of $18.9 million for running the bank’s asset management arm. Mr Moore was the biggest earner with remuneration totalling $19.65 million.
In a statement yesterday the group’s Chairman Peter Warne pointed to Ms Wikramanayake’s “international track record, vision and strong sense of our unique culture to make this a very successful transition”.
In a trading update separately released to the ASX on Thursday ahead of its AGM, Macquarie saying its operating groups were “performing well” during the first quarter of fiscal 2019 ended June 30, and that the operating group contribution during the quarter was up from the previous year.
It maintained that it expected fiscal 2019 results to be in line with the previous year’s record profit of $A2.56 billion.