Citigroup bankers won’t be informed of their bonuses until the end of this month, but as anyone who read Vikram Pandit’s New Year’s Eve memo will already know, the Citigroup bonus pool is ‘dramatically lower than last year.’
The overall implication of the memo appeared to be that a lot of Citi bankers will receive little or no bonus for 2008. However, lest people in Citi’s viable businesses started wondering whether they could earn more elsewhere, Sir Win Bischoff appeared as guest editor of the BBC’s Today Programme on New Year’s Day and reassured listeners that bonuses will still be paid to people in “very useful and very profitable” parts of the Citigroup empire.
Which parts are these exactly? Citigroup declined to comment. However, banking analyst and arch Citi supporter Dick Bove points out that most of the bank is profitable, with the exception of its capital markets operations and anything to do with loans or principal investing.
A quick look at the Citi’s Q308 results shows transaction services doing particularly well, EMEA wealth management growing from a low base, and EMEA equity markets producing positive revenues – although down on last year.
Bonuses in transaction services, Citigroup’s treasury and cash management division, are unlikely to be big at the best of times. And wealth managers are usually paid modestly compared to investment bankers. So does this mean Citi’s EMEA equity staff stand alone in counting on respectable investment banking-style bonuses in a few weeks’ time?
Apparently not. “We hear that bonuses in cash equities at Citigroup will be dreadful,” says one European equities headhunter. “The morale across equities is really poor.”