Bad bonus? Time to say goodbye

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It's bonus time for many investment banks in Australia, and that means it's poaching time as well.

As the very top performers form a queue outside the Ferrari dealerships of Melbourne and Sydney - looking for ways of spending their AU$2m-plus bonuses, banking recruiters say others who might have been disappointed with their payment are more likely to be dusting off their CVs.

"Around this time of the year, you'll see some investment bankers who have been hanging on to see how they're rewarded," says one banker who declined to be named. "If they're disappointed, then they're gone. I think the next few weeks could be quite interesting."

With the continuing M&A boom - buoyed by news of two AU$10bn-plus deals in the first two weeks of the calendar year - there's certainly no shortage of investment banks looking for staff.

These include the top performing Macquarie Bank and Babcock & Brown, who have both lifted staff numbers 20% in the past year and are expected to do so again in the coming year.

Goldman Sachs has also let it be known it is looking for staff to boost its broking operations, and Lehman Bros is expected to launch a major recruiting campaign after buying out Australian investment and advisory firm Grange Securities.

Recruiters say smaller boutique operators such as Carnegie Wylie & Co. and Caliburn Partnership are also on the lookout for new staff after more than doubling their profits in 2006.

"I think you will see movement across the board - from junior staff to senior staff," another recruiter tells us.

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