Page last updated at 17:58 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Goldman Sachs UK partners cap their pay at 1m each

Goldman Sachs building in central London
Executives below partner-level can still expect to make more than 1m

Goldman Sachs' 100 UK-based partners are capping their 2009 pay and bonuses at £1m each, the BBC has learned.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said it represented a significant sacrifice of several hundred million pounds.

One executive said they wanted to be seen to be exercising the restraint which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has sought from all bankers.

Many executives working in Britain ranked below partner-level, however, will earn much more than £1m each.

The company did not feel it could insist they take a pay cut, because that might have damaged its ability to recruit and retain more able bankers, our business editor said.

When questioned about the situation at Goldman, Treasury minister Lord Myners told Radio 4's PM programme: "I personally find that level of reward [more than £1m a year] pretty unpalatable.

"But it's up to the shareholders of Goldman to speak up, as it is for the shareholders of Barclays and RBS to make their views clear on what they regard as the right approach."

Strong trading

Goldman will pay many hundreds of millions of pounds in bonuses to staff ranked below partner-level.

Its employees will be told this week precisely how much each of them earned for the firm's near-record trading performance in 2009.

Goldman will be paying many hundreds of millions of pounds in bonuses to staff ranked below the level of partner who are based in Britain.
Robert Peston, BBC business editor

The big British banks, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland, have not yet fixed the size of their employees' bonuses.

However, Barclays has decided its top executives will receive 75% of their bonuses - and 100% for the most senior people - in staggered payments over three years.

Royal Bank of Scotland is expected to unveil its bonus pot ahead of the company's profit figures being announced on 25 February.

The bank has agreed the structure of bonuses, with the board of directors and senior staff being asked to either defer or stagger payments over the next three years.

Last year RBS paid £1bn in bonuses, and there has been speculation that this year's number may hit £1.5bn.

At Lloyds TSB, the bank said it had made no decision on the size and structure of bonuses.

Any announcement is likely to come at the end of February, when the firm announces full-year profits figures.

Last year's bonuses were partially deferred, and a similar deferral could be possible too this time.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for HSBC said the bank has never discussed executive bonuses or the issues around them.

US move

The UK watchdog, the Financial Services Authority, is vetting all bonus payments worth more than £1m for British-based bankers.

The FSA is insisting at least 60% of such payments should be deferred for up to three years.

Robert Peston said bankers he had spoken to were still reeling from President Barack Obama's announcement he wanted to limit bank sizes and force them out of a series of activities.

These include hedge funds, private equity and proprietary trading, which the president regards as too risky and speculative.

Bankers plan to fight the reforms though, with a lobbying effort that will begin at this week's World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland attended by business leaders and politicians.

"I really wouldn't assume that Obama will get this stuff through Congress," said one banker.

British-based bankers said Obama's reforms have slightly lessened their ire at the British government over the imposition of its bonus tax.

"With regard to Darling's tax, the way I would put it is that it is like finding out your wife has been having an affair - you forgive her, but you never forget," said one banker.

This weekend Alistair Darling said in an interview with the Sunday Times he is unenthusiastic about President Obama's plans to break up banks and limit their size.

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