Merrill throwing money at top trader

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UBS may be eliminating swathes of trading jobs, but Merrill Lynch has shown that banks are still prepared to pay big, big money for the right person.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Merrill's paying $50m to win the affections of former Goldman trading star Thomas Montag, who's joining as global head of sales and trading for the bank's debt and equities business.

Merrill's munificence coincides with news of another raft of redundancies at UBS. The Swiss bank revealed today that it plans to make another 5,500 job cuts, of which 2,600 are expected to fall in its securities division.

A report released last week predicted 20,000 trading jobs will be eliminated globally by 2012.

With a base salary of $600k, a guaranteed stock and cash bonus of $39.4m, and additional cash to buy out the equity he's accumulated in Goldman, Montag looks unlikely to part company with Merrill any time soon.

The huge package, which we assume is based on Thain's hope that Montag will raise Merrill from the doldrums, pales in comparison to hedge fund pay, but is generous compared to other trader packages - such as the 10m-15m Deutsche reportedly offered a star commodities trader last year.

Lesser individuals will be nowhere near as fortunate. But one headhunter says it's not as bad as all that - even for CDO traders and structurers. "Second and third-tier banks will still offer guarantees to hire the right people," says Adam Buck, managing director of recruiters Selby Jennings. "They're just less generous than they used to be."