Mac Bank makes its equities move

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Australia's finest is preparing to put its finger in the equities pie.

According to an article in the Financial Times this week, Macquarie Bank has set its sights on building a European equities broking business catering for institutional investors. It will comprise 70 people, of whom 35 will be researchers.

Rather than nurturing its own juniors, the FT says Macquarie has hit on the cunning plan of poaching seasoned equities types from elsewhere. European executive director Andrew Hunter told the paper it should be able to capitalize on market turmoil and layoffs to net a few experienced staff.

Now, to us this looks like wishful thinking, given fixed income rather than equities pros are more likely to feel the wrath of redundancy right now. However, headhunters assure us that equities people are being shown the exits too - UBS, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Lehman and Bear Stearns (which is simultaneously building in ECM) are all said to have been discreetly lopping staff in the area.

This doesn't mean Mac Bank won't have to dig deep to get what it wants. One equities headhunter told us the cost of building a new business from scratch would be prohibitively expensive.

Jason Kennedy, managing director of recruiter Kennedy Associates, says a good VP-level equity salesperson in London would currently go for 250k to 350k, a top-rated researcher would go for 500k plus, and a bog standard researcher could command 150k to 300k.

Unless Mac Bank fishes for people already out of the market, Kennedy predicts it will also need to dish out a few guarantees.

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