Macquarie Infrastructure Company CEO steps down

James Hooke will replace Peter Stokes at Macquarie’s North America-focused listed infrastructure fund, which has seen its shares tumble 95 percent since June 2007. Stokes will return to Australia after spending 12 years at Macquarie's New York office, five as CEO of MIC.

Macquarie veteran Peter Stokes is ending his five year reign as chief executive officer of the Macquarie Infrastructure Company (MIC), handing over the top job at the troubled firm to relative newcomer James Hooke.

Peter Stokes

Stokes, who has run the New York Stock Exchange-listed investment firm since its initial public offering in 2004, has decided to move back to Australia after 12 years of working in New York, according to a statement. He will hand over the reins at the Macquarie Group-managed firm to Hooke after it reports its first quarter results to the market on 7 May.

Hooke, managing director at Macquarie Capital Funds in New York, has been with Macquarie since 2007. The funds division manages several of Macquarie’s listed and unlisted funds, such as MIC and Macquarie Infrastructure Partners (MIP) I and II, which collectively have $5.5 billion of capital commitments, according to the statement.

Hooke has served as asset director and board member of several MIP-owned companies, including wireless tower operator Global Tower Partners and Manhattan parking operator ICON.

The change in ranks comes at an especially difficult time for MIC, which manages a portfolio of North American airport, parking, energy and bulk liquid storage businesses. Concerns over its massive debt load have touched off a sell-off in its shares, which are down nearly 40 percent since the beginning of the year and 95 percent off their all-time high of $44.20 in June 2007.

The decline has placed its market capitalisation below minimum acceptable levels for listed companies in its category on the New York Stock Exchange. Last week, the exchange notified MIC that it has 25 days to explain how it plans to regain compliance with the listing standard.

In March, MIC announced that it would suspend its dividend in order to accelerate paying down its$1.8 billion debt burden. It also indicated that it may seek bankruptcy protection for some of its assets, including its airport parking business, a portfolio of 31 off-airport parking facilities which has seen its revenues plummet in the wake of slowing airport traffic.

MIC had previously tried to sell the airport parking business but was unsuccessful, according to a person familiar with the matter.