Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Thursday, 21 January 2010

Goldman Sachs says pay and profit in 2009 up sharply

Goldman Sachs booth at the New York Stock Exchange
Goldman had a good year compared to 2008

US bank Goldman Sachs has said its net profits rose sharply in the fourth quarter, beating expectations.

The company made $4.95bn (£3.06bn) between September and December, compared with a loss of $2.12bn in the same period in 2008.

Goldman said it will pay $16.19bn in compensation and benefits for the whole year, up 48% from 2008.

But its compensation as a percentage of net revenues was 35.8%, the lowest since it went public in 1999.

For the whole of 2009, the bank had net profits of $13.39bn, up from $2.32bn in the previous year.

Shares in Goldman initially rose when trading began in New York but then fell back, and were down 0.4% to $167.10.

US President Barack Obama is due to outline new measures to clamp down on financial risk in a speech later on Thursday.

Compensation increases

"Despite significant economic headwinds, we are seeing signs of growth and remain focused on supporting that growth," said Goldman chief executive Lloyd Blankfein said.

Bank compensation graph

The BBC's business editor Robert Peston said that the compensation came to about $500,000 per head at the bank.

The bank said its annual net revenues - $45.17bn, up from $22.2bn in 2008 - was down 2% from its record year in 2007 but it said its total compensation had fallen at a much faster rate.

It is paying staff 20%, or $4bn, less than it paid that year.

The issue of banker compensation has become a source of public anger on both sides of the Atlantic, with bankers awarding themselves large pay-outs after accepting large government bail-outs.

Most US banks have paid back their government loans now, and have raised their compensation levels.

Goldman's bonus is in line with large pay packets awarded to bankers at its US rivals.

Rival banks

In the past week, JPMorgan Chase said it would award $27bn in compensation for the last year, up 18% from 2008.

In the autumn of 2008, all big banks were just hours from meltdown; and here is Goldman, a year later, generating a fraction less than its all-time record 2007 revenues. It's a funny old world
Robert Peston, BBC business editor

Morgan Stanley's compensation will rise 31% to $14.4bn.

Citigroup - which reported a loss in 2009 and a significant minority of its shares held by the US taxpayer - plans to pay its bankers $25bn, down 20% from the previous year.

Bank of America did not give a compensation figure, but it is included in its non-interest expenses.

That figure almost doubled to $11.7bn in the past year.

Goldman said in December that its 30 top executives would not receive any cash bonuses in 2009.

Their bonuses will be in the form of restricted shares, which cannot be sold for five years. This is aimed at discouraging excessive risk-taking in the wake of the global financial crisis.

Goldman has borne the brunt of criticism over banker pay, raising its bonus pool while accepting a $10bn US government bail-out.

It has since repaid the government loan.

Mr Obama has vowed to "recover every single dime" from banks.

He has outlined a new levy aiming to recover $117bn from financial institutions, and criticised banks for "massive profits and obscene bonuses".

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