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Bank could pay average bonus of $400,000

By David Mildenberg
Bloomberg News / February 4, 2010

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Bank of America Corp. will pay investment-banking employees bonuses of about $4.4 billion for last year, or an average of $400,000 each, a person close to the bank said yesterday.

As much as 95 percent will be paid in stock that vests over about three years, the person said. Those receiving the smallest bonuses will get about half of their compensation in cash, paid later this month, the person said.

Bank of America, the target of political wrath for its acquisition of Merrill Lynch & Co. even as the faltering Wall Street firm handed out $3.6 billion in employee bonuses, reaped a $6.3 billion profit in 2009.

“Fixed-income traders are receiving the biggest bonuses at Bank of America and other firms because that was what drove Wall Street profits last year,’’ said Richard Lipstein, managing director at Boyden Global Executive Search Ltd. in New York.

“We attempted to balance the need to pay competitively with our understanding of the general concern over the level of compensation on Wall Street,’’ spokesman Robert Stickler said. “The most important thing is that much more of year-end compensation is now deferred and tied to long-term stock performance and there are clawbacks.’’

Goldman Sachs Group, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s investment bank slashed their compensation in the fourth quarter.

The three firms set aside $39.9 billion for pay in 2009, below the 2007 record of $44.7 billion.