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Morgan Stanley UK chief pockets pounds 4m

The Wall Street bonus bonanza, spawned by record profits earned in 1996, has crossed the water to London. Sir David Walker, a managing director at Morgan Stanley in the City, was paid no less than $6.5m (pounds 4m) last year according to filings made by the bank to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The information, submitted in connection with Morgan Stanley's planned merger with Dean Witter Discover, reveals that the bank paid three of its top officers more than $10m each in 1996.

Sir David, who heads Morgan's European operations and is a former executive at the Bank of England, came in with the fourth-biggest pay packet. Sir David began his career at the Treasury in 1961, and has held numerous other senior posts including being chairman of the Securities and Investments Board, chairman of Johnson Matthey Bankers, and deputy chairman of Lloyds Bank.

The filing offers rare official intelligence about the earnings of the top players on Wall Street last year. While New York has been buzzing for weeks about mega-bonuses, most banks have followed tradition in zipping up about the full extent of their generosity to their traders, analysts and investment bankers.

Filings from several other of the big institutions in coming weeks should, however, give additional glimpses into the sheer richness of last year's bonus handout. After a good year, it is not uncommon for top performers to receive lump bonus payments of up to eight times basic salary.

The package paid to Sir David, who oversees Morgan Stanley's European operations, is likely to have been a mix of salary, a cash bonus and some restricted stock. He may not be able to realise the stock for several years. It none the less represents a doubling of what he was paid a year earlier.

The biggest winner at the firm was John Mack, 52, president of Morgan Stanley, who received $10,677,489 for the year that ended 30 November - a 60 per cent increase on his earnings in 1995. Mr Mack will also be president of the merged Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Discover.

The chairman of Morgan Stanley, Richard Fisher, 60, who is close to retirement, received $10,493,028. Meanwhile, Peter Karches, 45, who heads Morgan Stanley's securities business, received a package worth $10.13m. Barton Biggs, the firm's economic guru with a strong following, made $6.3m, only marginally less than Sir David.

All this beneficence follows Wall Street's stellar performance in 1996, when profits reached a record $12.5bn. According to New York State estimates, bonuses paid out on Wall Street from last year may reach a jaw-dropping $8.1bn, 30 per cent more than the previous high of $6.2bn.

With 150,000 employed on Wall Street, that would average out at a one- off bonus payment of $54,000 for every worker. In reality the tidal wave of dollars will have been skewed more heavily in favour of the most senior echelons of the Street and at the most successful banks.

Other firms that have made bonus headlines in recent weeks have included Bear Stearns, which paid $18.8m to its chairman, Alan Greenberg, last year. The nearly 200 partners of Goldman Sachs - of which many are in London - are thought to have made between $4m and $8m each last year.