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Breaking the shackles

IT is just 14 days until the former equity holders of WA brokerage Porter Western are freed from the golden handcuffs they accepted at the sale of their business to Macquarie Bank.

In this period of upheaval and unrest in the sector, many are watching the likes of Tim Lyons, Craig Carter and four other stakeholders in what was once a high-profile local broker to see what might happen after the shackles are released.

It is understood the group certainly has had plenty of good reasons to stick with Macquarie to date.

The deal, almost three years ago, was reputedly worth at least $10 million, with the (then) shareholders locked into a performance-rated arrangement allowing for quarterly instalments from Macquarie.

On March 15, the last of those payments will be made.

For his part, Mr Lyons said he was happy with the current situation and had no plans to move to other pastures – a situation he felt confident enough to speak for the others as well.

“For the majority of us there will not be any change,” Mr Lyons said.

“Craig and myself, who were the senior guys at Porter Western, are not going anywhere.

“I am not aware that any of the guys will jump ship.”

In fact, Mr Lyons believes that Macquarie Equities, the stockbroking arm of Australia’s biggest home-grown investment bank, is a good place to be right now.

“In terms of retail broking around Australia, they are pretty well positioned,” he said.

Having picked up eight dealers from the CIBC fallout and six dealers from the recent closure of BNP Paribus’s Perth office, Mr Lyons believes Macquarie is set to survive the upheaval that is making life tough for those occupying the middle ground.

It’s a similar story to the wine industry where his label, Forrest Hill, is a minor player.

“Broking will come down to two or three majors in terms of retail services and then there will be boutique firms,” Mr Lyons said.

In three years since the Porter Western name was sold the landscape has changed considerably, not just among the competitors but throughout the consumer side too.

“You have to be a lot better. I am not saying speculation markets will not return, but the average person is looking more seriously at their stock market investments and being long term,” Mr Lyons said.

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