John Mack, the chief executive of Morgan Stanley, has been handed a $40m (£20.5m) Christmas bonus, the largest ever awarded to a Wall Street boss.
The giant investment bank set out details of the free shares and share options it has granted to its top executives this week, just days before what are expected to be record-breaking financial results for 2006.
Senior board members are taking their cut of the profits generated during the new boom times on Wall Street, and Mr Mack's unprecedented compensation package could well be surpassed within weeks, when Goldman Sachs - Morgan Stanley's bigger rival - reveals its own executive payouts. Speculation yesterday was that Goldman will pay its chief executive, Lloyd Blankfein, a sum in excess of $50m.
Mr Mack, one of the most powerful men in the finance industry, was brought back to Morgan Stanley last year after a boardroom putsch against his predecessor Philip Purcell. His 2006 pay package - 461,821 shares valued at $36.2m when they were awarded on Tuesday, plus share options worth about $4m - eclipses the $39m he earned for five months work last year, which included a $26m signing-on bonus.
Mr Mack, whose nickname is "Mack the Knife", is credited with stemming the exodus of senior executives that destabilised Mr Purcell's regime, and Morgan Stanley's share price is up 40 per cent since the start of 2006, the best performance of any investment bank bar Goldman Sachs.
Morgan Stanley has also set out the bonus shares and stock options granted to seven other senior executives. Mr Mack's deputies, co-presidents Zoe Cruz and Robert Scully, were given bonuses worth $19m and almost $13m respectively.Reuse content