Macquarie Group reportedly mulling offshore move to avoid bank tax

Macquarie Group is the best performing blue chip in Australia following a report the investment bank would not rule out shifting its headquarters offshore to avoid the incoming A$6.2bn bank levy.

In its federal budget early last month, the Australian government announced it would impose a levy on retail deposits across the “four pillar” commercial banks and Macquarie that would raise A$6.2bn over four years. Treasury officials were of the view the levy would help foster competition for deposits.

Executives at Macquarie, nicknamed the millionaires’ factory, had relayed to at least one of the major political parties it was mulling options for relocating offshore as result of the bank tax announcement, the Australian Financial Review reported. Asked to respond, a spokesperson for the bank left the option open, the AFR said.

Macquarie shares were up 1.2 per cent in mid-morning trade in Sydney, double the gain for the benchmark S&P/ASX 200. It was the top performer among the country’s 20 biggest companies.

The bank managed to end May down 0.6 per cent, a better performance than falls of between 8.6 per cent and 12.2 per cent for the four major banks.

The chief executives of the banks have urged the government to delay the proposed new tax and lobbied for changes, but only this week the government said it would delay the first payment from the tax until March next year. That announcement provided the share prices of the banks with some reprieve in what turned out to be a very rough May.

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