Spending spree in the City as bankers celebrate return of the huge bonus

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The Independent Online

The era of seven-figure bonuses for City bankers - and the extravagant spending epitomised by Harry Enfield's wad-waving character, Loadsamoney - has returned.

Bonuses for City employees are expected to rise to levels not seen since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in 2001 led to a stock market meltdown.

Even though bonus pay day is more than a month off, bankers, traders and financiers are already working out how to spend their new-found wealth.

The luxury goods sector is tripping over itself in a race to get a slice of the payouts. Car showrooms and estate agents may be towards the front of the queue, but bankers are also turning to limited edition or bespoke models of everyday items, such as mobile phones.

The recruitment consultants Morgan McKinley says the majority of banking and financial services employees believe their bonus will be higher this year than 12 months ago. A quarter of City bankers are expecting their bonus to be double what it was last year, while a further 16 per cent think it will be between 30 and 100 per cent higher.

Just 6 per cent expect their 2005 bonus to be less than last year's. Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, has already set aside more than $9.2bn (£5.3bn) for pay and bonuses for its 22,000 employees. Two Goldman Sachs bankers are understood to be expecting bonuses of £10m each.

The effect of the bonus boom is already being felt in the property market. Estate agents with offices in the City and at Canary Wharf have already had inquiries from bankers dropping hints that a big bonus is on its way.

Jon Byers, the sales manager for Hamptons in the City, said: "The big spenders are back. We are enjoying the best performance of trading since before 11 September. Since the summer people have been spoiling themselves and already we are getting interest in property from guys who are expecting a big bonus."

Car showrooms are expecting to vacuum up a substantial portion. Sytner, a dealership that specialises in luxury models, has received several calls from City workers looking to purchase the new Aston Martin AMV8 - the car Pierce Brosnan used in the most recent James Bond film, Die Another Day. But there is a three-year wait.

Other luxury-goods producers are doing their best to capture a slice of the bonus market. Vertu, whose limited-edition mobile phones sell for £3,500, has designed an 18-carat, white gold mobile encrusted with 700 diamonds. There is a four-month waiting list.

And for those happy to drink away their earnings, there is always the world's most expensive cocktail.

Created at the Umbaba bar in Soho, London, it is served with a three-inch, 24-carat gold cocktail pin. It is yours for £333.

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