Five executives at Bear Stearns share in $83m bonus bonanza

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The Independent Online
Five senior executives at Bear Stearns, the New York securities firm, have been granted bonuses of $83.1m (pounds 53m) as a result of soaring profits on Wall Street.

James Cayne, chief executive, Alan Greenberg, the chairman, and Warren Spector, executive vice president, received a stratospheric $19m each for the year. Bear Stearn's performance was underpinned by rising US stock markets and continuing strong business in mergers and acquisitions.

The Bear Stearns figures are especially impressive because of the timing of its fiscal year. Other Wall Street firms, whose years include July, when the markets suffered a temporary downturn, are unlikely to produce such remarkable full-year results.

Many firms also fear that a further retreat may occur later this year as the Federal Reserve ponders an interest rate increase. Bear Stearn's income more than doubled over the year to $490.6m.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is on course to just fall short of 1993's record profits of $2.7bn after making $1.83bn of profits in the first three-quarters of the financial year.

The earnings windfall means that each of the firm's 175 general partners stands to receive some $5m in personal capital, which will remain with the firm until retirement.

Bonuses for staff, while unlikely to be a repeat of 1993 when more than 100 London executives walked away as millionaires, are certain to set champagne corks flying when they are paid around Christmas time.

A good all-round performance from the bank is thought to have generated the profits in an environment which has generally been very productive for investment banking.

In 1993 profits rocketed on the back of proprietary trading, but this is thought to be less of a factor in 1996 profits.

The mergers and acquisition team has been particularly active. The team has taken part in equities deals such as ENA, an Italian insurance firm, Daimler-Benz in Germany and Ahold in the Netherlands.

Goldman professionals also advised Lucas on its merger with Varity and was involved in a bond issue by the British government.

Separately, Goldman has appointed John Thornton, its London-based mergers and acquisitions chief, to head its Asian operations and join the bank's executive committee.

Other US investment banks are also reaping the rewards of climbing stock markets, higher activity on the corporate front and sliding interest rates.

For instance, Salomon, which makes its third-quarter report next month, made a healthy $893m of profits in the first half in its securities business and is expected to continue its high profit level for the rest of the year.