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Monday, February 9, 2009

The bonus racket

Posted by AccGURU

The bonus racket


"ISN'T it funny/How they never make any money/When everyone in the
racket/Cleans up such a packet." That Basil Boothroyd poem was
originally written about the movies, but it could just as well apply
to banking.

In its last three years, Bear Stearns paid $11.3 billion in
employee compensation and benefits. According to its 2007 annual
report, Lehman Brothers shelled out $21.6 billion in the three years
before, while Merrill Lynch paid staff over $45 billion during the
three years to 2007.

And what have shareholders got from all this? Lehman's got nothing
(the company went bust). Investors in Bear Stearns received around
$1.4 billion of JPMorgan Chase stock, now worth just half that after
the fall in the acquirer's share price. Merrill Lynch's shareholders
got shares in Bank of America (BofA) which are now worth just $9.6
billion, less than a fifth of the original offer value. Meanwhile,
Citigroup paid $34.4 billion to its employees in 2007 and is now
valued by the stockmarket at just $18.1 billion.