Have VTB and Nomura blown bonus money on guarantees?

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The very best placed people in this market have guaranteed bonuses.

And the very worst placed people in this market are working with the

people who have the guaranteed bonuses.

Individuals already appear to be coming to this conclusion at Nomura and

they may yet reach a similar conclusion at Russian bank VTB.

According to The

Independent last weekend, Nomura bankers are feeling peeved

that their ex-Lehman colleagues are getting guaranteed payouts in line

with last year.

Headhunters say they've been getting calls from the disaffected. "Non-Japanese employees at Nomura are figuring out that they will either

have to report to Lehman staff or be totally annihilated," says Jason

Kennedy, MD of search firm Kennedy Associates.

And Bloomberg

today reports that VTB, which until recently was hiring vigorously in London and allegedly paying generous

guarantees in the process, is now rumoured to be cutting bonuses

altogether for 2008.

However, one VTB insider in London says he hasn't heard anything of the

proposed elimination of bonuses, and that it may in any case be

restricted to senior staff in Russia.

VTB's decision may have more to do with the state of the Russian

banking system and a $360m trading loss in September than with costly

guarantees for new staff. But it's unlikely to ingratiate expensive new

hires with existing employees if true.