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Macquarie Bank Says First-Quarter Profit Is Substantially Higher

Macquarie Bank, Australia's largest investment bank, said on Thursday first-quarter profits were substantially higher than a year ago, and forecast continued strong growth.

"The first quarter's performance reflects good market conditions and continued investment in growth," Chief Executive Allan Moss said in a statement ahead of the bank's annual shareholder meeting.

He said earnings for the three months to June 30, 2007, were "substantially up" on a year ago, but did not give figures.

Robust equity markets, a boom in mergers and acquisitions and performance fees from its specialist funds have driven earnings at the investment bank. Moss said contribution from international income would become increasingly important.

Macquarie said on Thursday plans to establish a non-operating holding company to accommodate its banking and non-banking businesses were on track. It expected to put the plan to shareholders in the December quarter.

It said talks on new funding facilities for the holding company were underway. Local media reports said Macquarie was seeking new facilities for up to A$20 billion (US$17.5 billion) and had been in talks last week with global banks.

Macquarie said in a slide presentation the non-operating holding company would have a range of funding sources, including global capital markets and committed banking facilities, with a significant portion long-term.

Moss said most of the bank's growth would be from existing businesses but there may be some small and medium size acquisitions.

Macquarie, part of a consortium that in May failed in a takeover bid for Qantas Airways, earned record net profit of A$1.463 billion in the fiscal year ended March, well above analysts' forecasts.

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