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Macquarie banker who earns more than Jamie Dimon steps down, Banking & Finance

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MACQUARIE Group’s powerhouse commodities head Nick O’Kane, who famously earned more than Wall Street chiefs such as JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Jamie Dimon and Citigroup’s Jane Fraser, will step down later this month.

The 28-year veteran of the company will resign as head of commodities and global markets and from the executive committee on Feb 27, to “pursue opportunities outside Macquarie”, the bank said on Tuesday (Feb 13).

Simon Wright, currently head of the financial markets unit within commodities and global markets, will replace him and will join the executive committee from Apr 1. Wright has been with Macquarie for 35 years.

O’Kane was a top performer and well-liked both internally and with clients, said Jamie Hannah, deputy head of investments and capital markets at Van Eck in Sydney, who holds Macquarie shares.

“I don’t think the market was expecting his departure,” he said. “Interestingly, Macquarie is down nearly 2 per cent today when the banking sector is up. So obviously the market respected his worth.”

The leadership shuffle came as Macquarie said its profit for the nine months ended Dec 31 was “substantially down” on the previous year. O’Kane made a “massive contribution”, and is leaving for a range of personal reasons, the lender’s chief executive officer Shemara Wikramanayake said on an analyst call on Tuesday.

O’Kane did not immediately respond to a request for comment by phone and LinkedIn.

Macquarie’s shares fell as much as 4.3 per cent, before paring losses to 1.9 per cent as at 12.11 pm in Sydney (9.11 am SGT).

O’Kane’s division saw earnings fall, primarily due to exceptionally strong results in the previous period, the bank said. 

It was those results that drove the 59 per cent pay boost O’Kane received in the year to March 2023. His renumeration for the period was A$57.6 million (S$50.5 million), according to Macquarie’s annual report released last May. In contrast, chief executive officer Wikramanayake received A$32.8 million.

O’Kane’s pay also topped that of the biggest US bank bosses. Citigroup awarded Fraser US$24.5 million for 2022, while JPMorgan kept Dimon’s total compensation at US$34.5 million for that year.

At the time, Macquarie chairman Glenn Stevens defended O’Kane’s salary, noting the bank is competing for talent in a global marketplace.

“This is an exceptional year so it’s not a surprise that there are some exceptional numbers,” Stevens said.

The Sydney-based bank entered the US natural gas market in 2005 with the acquisition of Cook Inlet Energy Supply, and in 2009 acquired Constellation Energy’s downstream natural gas trading platform.

O’Kane then built a matrix of leases over gas and energy transmission networks, making Macquarie the most powerful player in the US market, according to The Millionaire’s Factory, a history of Macquarie by Chris Wright and Joyce Moullakis, released last year.

“It will be interesting to see where he pops up, but he certainly knows the US market well and I imagine knows who is good within Macquarie’s business,” said UBS Group analyst John Storey. BLOOMBERG

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