Access to bonuses prompts bankers to depart DLJ

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Combined with a reported culture clash between the two banks, the windfall is contributing to an exodus of top DLJ bankers from the merged group to rivals such as Bear Stearns and Salomon Smith Barney. Credit Suisse agreed to buy DLJ for $11.5 bn in stock in late August.

The change-of-control clause relates to a compensation plan offered to many senior DLJ bankers, has learned. They were encouraged to invest their bonuses in a series of private equity funds managed by the bank, whose annual returns normally topped 30%. DLJ contributed as much as four times the employee's investment in the form of a loan. So a $200,000 investment, for example, would be matched by a loan of as much as $800,000 from DLJ.

To lock in participants, DLJ made the loan in stages over several years. But thanks to the Credit Suisse takeover, completed two weeks ago, participants will get the full DLJ contribution without having to wait. Two senior DLJ bankers said the windfall could be valued at as much as $1 billion.