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BofA rumoured to have paid enormous guarantee to Sanaz Zaimi

After negative coverage highlighting the outpouring of Merrill Lynch talent from BofA, it must have been with no little pleasure that BofA/Merrill Lynch announced that it had poached Goldman partner Sanaz Zaimi last week.

But how much did Zaimi cost? Rumour has it she didn't come cheap.

Headhunters say Merrill paid up to $17m a year for Zaimi over a two year period. BofA didn't immediately return a request for comment, but banks rarely comment on pay issues anyway.

The allegedly expensive acquisition of Zaimi follows claims that Merrill bankers are getting twitchy about their bonus prospects this year.

According to Clusterstock, senior ML bankers have been pressing for 2009 bonus levels to match 2007's over fears that 'the entire franchise could fall apart' if compensation doesn't measure up.

Senior staff at Merrill are already said to have been offered retention bonuses equivalent to 80% of last year's record payouts. But these are said to be comparatively sparse in number.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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