Fear not, bankers. Christmas is coming after all.
Just a few days after the UK government imposed its one-off supertax on bank bonus pots, it looks like bankers can breathe more easily - decent payouts now look likely this year-end.
Although most firms are thought to have looked at options for avoiding the tax, they have all come to the same conclusion - trying to be clever and getting round it won't pay in the end. So, most firms are likely to just take the additional tax hit on the chin, meaning that it will be shareholders, and not employees, who will end up footing the bill.
Here Is The City publisher Vic Daniels said: 'Most of the big firms looked set to restore normal dividend payouts to shareholders next year, but bonus taxes are now likely to be paid instead. This can be justified to shareholders on the basis that it is not in their long term interests for banks to lose their top staff'.
And any firm that chooses to reduce (or do away with) bonuses this year because of the tax is likely to be at a commercial disadvantage in terms of retaining talent. One banker told us: 'It will only take some of the big boys, like JPMorgan, to pay up and the others will have to follow. Retaining key staff is the name of the game these days, as no-one wants to be losing talent just as the markets show signs of recovering'.
Another banker said: 'Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann has been crowing that German banks may be at a 'comparative advantage' now they have agreed to exercise pay restraint this year (and look like avoiding a bonus tax). He may be laughing on the other side of his face, however, if other firms simply pay the tax and use this to justify paying out bigger bonuses. German firms like Deutsche will then be forced to watch on helplessly from the sidelines'.
In the meantime, there are genuine fears that the UK's tax grab (which may be followed by France) could have long term repercussions for the future of the City as a main financial center. And The Sunday Times reports that officials from Hong Kong, New York and Switzerland have already launched charm offensives to lure financial institutions away from London, and that several firms have started to draft up plans to move business to more tax friendly countries. The newspaper quotes one banker, who said: 'We would expect this in Stalinist Russia, but not here. That is why, until now, we kept London as the hub of our operations'.
Finally, US President Obama just couldn't help himself - he had to jump on the bonus bashing bandwagon. Obama said during an interview with CBS's 60 minutes last week: 'I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat-cat bankers on Wall Street'. (Ed's note - no Prez, they just helped you get elected!)
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