Buoyant year tipped to boost Oz bonuses

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Corporate deals have flowed thick and fast Down Under this year and that usually means fat bonuses for the rain-makers behind them.

With most banks working through performance reviews ahead of the year-end, recruiters say bonuses could be 15-20 per cent higher than last year.

Deals have hit a record US$150 billion, according to Bloomberg. "It's been a very good year with some organizations hitting budget by the middle of the year," says Jon Michel, managing director of Jon Michel Executive Search.

Figures compiled by Thomson Financial/Freeman & Co show investment banks generated a total of US$1.56 billion in Australasian fee income from all types of deals in the year to September 30 - up from US$1.54 billion in the same period last year.

Fuelling that growth has been increased activity by Australian companies offshore and fees from transactions launched by ambitious banks such as Macquarie Bank.

Macquarie, or the "millionaires' factory", tops the list with A$164 million in fees, although its key staff won't know the extent of their bonuses until next June. Citigroup is next with $126.2 million, followed by UBS at $105.5 million, ABN Amro at $69.3 million and Goldman Sachs at $59 million, according to Thomson Financial's estimates.

Michael Markiewicz, chief executive at recruiter Carmichael Fisher, says this year should be "huge" for bonuses. "People are aware that when they lose their younger money-making people it costs a lot to replace them so they're looking after them," he says. Titles are another way of getting them to stay, he says. "There are an increasing number of managing directors now."

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