M&A bonuses up Down Under

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Jon Michel, managing director of Sydney-based recruiter Jon Michel Executive Search, says Australia's M&A bankers can expect bonuses to rise 20% this year compared to last.

Michael Markiewicz, managing director of rival recruiter Carmichael Fisher, says some of the country's most senior M&A bankers can expect to receive seven figure bonuses. Standard pay for top managing directors in M&A is a salary of A$300,000 (128,000) to A$400,000, plus a 200% bonus.

It's been a good year for Australia's dealmakers. Data from Bloomberg suggests some $US74bn (A$101bn) worth of deals took place in the territory this year including BHP's A$9bn takeover of WMC Resources. Next year may just as lucrative: banks are expected to earn $A150m in fees from the A$34bn privatisation of Telstra, the country's largest phone company.

Not all of Australia's bankers will be able to count their bonuses in the next few weeks, however. While US and European investment banks typically pay bonuses between now and mid-February, recruiters say employees at Macquarie Bank will have to hang on until June following the bank's fiscal year end in March.

It could be worth the wait. Recruiters say pay at Macquarie, which has been courting the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and is otherwise known as the 'millionaire maker', has been rising in recent years and now approximates that at large US investment banks in Australia.

A rising stock price is part of the appeal: Macquarie's share price has risen 60% over the last year, which is good news for anyone paid in restricted stock or options. A bid for the LSE at the right price could drive its stock higher still.

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