Money, Money, Money!

Pile of Coins

It was raining money. Just 50 employees bagged almost $700m in compensation in one year. Nice.

Bloomberg reports that Barclays has pledged to reduce pay levels as it tries to fend off an investor revolt over executive compensation.

'The balance of rewards between shareholders and employees has to change in favor of shareholders', Alison Carnwath, chairman of the bank’s remuneration committee, said at the lender’s annual investor meeting in London Friday. 'We will continue to seek to push down remuneration levels in the context of the competitive environment'.

In the meantime, The Telegraph says that investors in Standard Chartered are being urged to vote against the bank’s pay report which delivered a $92m remuneration pot to its top 13 bankers.

And Bloomberg reports that Aviva's CEO, Andrew Moss, has said he will not accept his 2012 salary rise as investors pressure the company to reassess its compensation structure.

Yet The Los Angeles Times puts all this into perspective, reporting that less than a year before the 2008 collapse of Lehman Bros. plunged the global economy into a terrifying free fall, the Wall Street firm awarded nearly $700m to 50 of its highest-paid employees, according to internal documents reviewed by The Times.

The documents, which were among the millions of pages submitted in Lehman's bankruptcy, show the list of top earners each were pledged $8m to $51m in cash, stock and other compensation. How much, if any, of the stock was cashed in before the bankruptcy wiped out its value couldn't be determined.

One banker told Here Is The City, however: 'The kind of money being paid out in 2007 was huge all round, so the Lehman numbers can't really be regarded as excessive (relatively speaking). However, it just underlines how far we've come since then, as investors flex their muscles and CEOs move quickly to decline base pay rises and alter their compensation structures. The good old days of money, money, money look like a thing of the past'.

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