Australia-based Macquarie Group is 'Project Post,' plans 123 finance jobs Downtown

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Australia-based Macquarie Group is the confidential “Project Post” that intends to open a 123-job global banking shared-services office Downtown, according to sources involved with the process who asked not to be identified.

The office would open by year-end and the accounting and financial management jobs would be created by the end of 2017.

Mayor Lenny Curry and a Macquarie Group executive announced the deal at 2 p.m. today at the JAX Chamber.

On Tuesday, Jacksonville City Council approved taxpayer incentives of $393,600 for Macquarie, identified only by its code name. Those incentives comprise a Qualified Target Industry grant of up to $147,600 and a training grant up to $246,000.

In total, Macquarie seeks almost $1.77 million in city and state incentives for the Jacksonville operation. It seeks a Downtown location, but has not identified one.

Macquarie Group is based in Sydney, Australia, and has more than 70 offices in 28 countries.

Its U.S. headquarters are in New York and it also has offices in Philadelphia, Houston, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago.

The Jacksonville shared-services operation will provide finance, accounting, tax and regulatory support and other services to Macquarie functions in the U.S. and in some European markets. The U.S. is a large growth market for Macquarie.

The company declined comment Wednesday.

In addition to the city incentives, Macquarie asked for $1.37 million from the state, consisting of its QTI match of up to $590,400, a Quick Action Closing Fund of up to $500,000 and a Quick Response Training Grant of up to $282,900.

In return, the company pledges to pay an average wage of $64,356 with an average benefits package of $20,000. That’s an annual payroll of $7.9 million, excluding benefits.

According to a city project summary and economic development agreement, Macquarie also expects to invest $2.2 million into improving the space it will lease.

It expects a total investment of at least $3.1 million, including IT, equipment, furniture and real estate improvements.

Macquarie would create 86 jobs by the end of 2016 and 37 more by the end of 2017.

The QTI refund is based on up to $6,000 a job, with the city paying 20 percent and the state the remaining 80 percent of the total $738,000. Refunds are made after the jobs are created and taxes are paid from 2017-22.

The city training grant is calculated at $2,000 per job. The city Office of Economic Development will help Macquarie apply for the state training fund up to $2,300 per job.

Legislation was filed June 17 for the fast-track deal, but kept confidential under Florida statute. It was referred to only as Project Post.

The economic development office noted the “highly competitive nature” of attracting banking and finance front-office operations in the Southeast. Because finance companies can realize cost efficiencies by expanding in traditional banking hubs like New York where there is a deep talent pool, they choose smaller cities if there are cost efficiencies in training and real estate.

The Office of Economic Development said the company was in the targeted category of financial services.

The city’s project summary said the company also was considering another city for the location, but did not identify it.

The city also stated the company does not currently have a presence in Jacksonville.

Macquarie Mortgages USA Inc. relocated its corporate offices to Jacksonville’s Southside in 2006 from Memphis, but Macquarie stopped making mortgages there in 2008.

Macquarie Group describes itself as a global provider of banking, financial, advisory, investment and funds management services. It acts on behalf of institutional, corporate and retail clients around the word.

It was founded in 1969 and employs about 14,000 people.

The company’s annual meeting was July 23. It said it expects fiscal 2016 results to be higher than fiscal 2015, which ended March 31.

Chairman Kevin McCann said profits were up 27 percent; operating income was up 14 percent; and that international income accounted for 70 percent of total income, up from 35 percent a decade ago.

The Project Post summary said that in fiscal 2015, the company supported 1,300 nonprofit organizations worldwide, donated $18.4 million (which converts to $25.2 million in Australian dollars) and that global staff volunteered 33,500 hours.

Those statistics mirrored what McCann said last week about the Macquarie Group Foundation’s 2015 contributions.

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