Exec Gets $25m For 3 Months, Then Walks Into A Top New Job!

And who said that there'll be no Santa Claus this year - as least there is as far as former Merrill Lynch executive Peter Kraus is concerned. He'll surely remember 2008 as a hell of a year!

Kraus was hired earlier this year as head of strategy by Merrill CEO John Thain, and officially started his new job in September - the month the firm was acquired by Bank of America. A change of ownership clause in his employment contract triggered a $25m exit package. Although Kraus is thought not to have been around much at Merrill in the last few weeks, his last day was officially Friday - the same day he was unveiled as the new CEO over at US money manager AllianceBernstein. Nice.

Reuters reports that investment bankers in Asia are playing catch-up on the lay-off front, as firms like Citi, Deutsche, Goldman, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley wield the axe. The news agency quotes one unnamed hedge fund manager, who said: 'Where it was somewhat active through most of the year, Asia is slowing down. (Bankers) were insulated, but now it's getting to the point where everything is declining at once'.

The Financial Times reports that JPMorgan confirmed Monday that it was acquiring UBS's Canadian commodities and global agricultural businesses. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Credit Suisse is winding down its US power and emissions trading unit, as the firm exits capital and risk-intensive businesses.

And Thomson Reuters figures indicate that global M&A is down 35% this year, with more deals withdrawn (around 1,100) than ever before. Private equity deals have also hit a 5-year low.

Finally, Bloomberg reports that $8bn hedge fund Magnetar Capital has limited withdrawals from its biggest fund, after it lost 30% this year through November.

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