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Cross dressing

01 December 2005

Is it a boutique, fund manager, sponsor or bank – even Babcock & Brown finds it hard to define itself. As its asset portfolio grows, what's next for this new breed of investment bank? By Andreas Campomar

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Last year's impressive $550 million IPO on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) was just the latest evidence of Babcock & Brown's (B&B) metamorphosis from boutique lease arranger into principal investment businesses.

According to Giles Frost, co-head of UK infrastructure, "The changes in the ways the finance leasing market worked and, in particular, the reduced ability to create advantageous cross-border deals promoted the pace of change. As work diminished in one area, it grew in others. We are now a significant global developer of and investor in assets."

The success of the IPO, from which Babcock & Brown received close to $6 billion in orders, coupled with overlapping business interests has brought with it a number of back-handed comparisons with Macquarie. And it is fair to say that both groups have similar growth strategies.

Back to its US roots

Nowhere is this more evident than in the US toll road market. Babcock...

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