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Macquarie 2006 Profit Jumps 60% Beating Estimates

Macquarie Bank reported a 60% jump in 2006 profit to a record, beating analysts' forecasts, boosted by strong deal flows and robust equity markets.

Australia's top listed investment bank, earned A$1.463 billion (US$1.219 billion) in net profit for fiscal year ended March. Eight analysts on average had forecast profit of A$1.394 billion. Estimates ranged from A$1.31 to A$1.430 billion.

International income rose to A$3.5 billion, a jump of 70% over the last year, with offshore staff up 39% to 3,501.

The bank, which manages A$197 billion ($164 billion) in assets globally, buys toll roads, airports, power and water utilities and bundles them into listed and unlisted funds and charges fee for managing them.

Macquarie, part of a consortium which earlier this month failed in a takeover bid for Qantas Airways, did not give a specific earnings growth forecast but said it had enjoyed a strong start to the new financial year.

The bank also plans to raise slightly more than A$700 million to fund international growth, a source told Reuters earlier on Tuesday. Its shares are on a trading halt pending details of the capital raising.

"We are planning for continued strong growth with international income expected to continue to make an increasingly important contribution," Chief Executive Office Allan Moss said in a statement on Tuesday.

Macquarie was Australia's second-biggest corporate advisor in 2006 having helped in deals worth about $38 billion. But it has slipped to fifth this year, according to data compiler Dealogic.

In February, the bank flagged a strong increase in fiscal 2007 earnings, boosted by booming stock markets and a surge in private-equity driven takeovers in Australia over the past 12 months.

But it is facing growing competition from smaller rivals such as Babcock & Brown, which last week won approval to buy Australia's largest energy infrastructure firm Alinta, beating out a bid from Macquarie.

Despite the recent setbacks, Macquarie has announced deals worth about A$20 billion in 2007, according to ABN AMRO, and also raised $10.3 billion for an infrastructure fund, emphasizing its desire to keep the momentum going.

Shares in Macquarie Bank have risen 13.9% so far in 2007, outpacing a 11.9% rise in the Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index in the same period.