Goldman Sachs pays out £8.1bn bonuses

NEARLY 6,000 UK employees at US banking giant Goldman Sachs are among staff sharing out 12.9 billion US dollars (£8.1 billion) in pay and bonuses for 2012 after it posted better-than-expected profits.

The total pay package - based on its global headcount of 32,400 - equates to an average of 399,506 US dollars (£249,977) for each of its employees and is 6% higher than in 2011.

Its bumper pay and bonus deal is likely to further stoke controversy after Goldman was yesterday forced to back down on plans to defer bonus payments to UK staff until the new financial year after Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King attacked the move.

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Fellow US investment banking group JP Morgan Chase also posted full year figures today revealing its staff salary and bonus bill soared to 30.6 billion dollars (£19.1 billion), up 5% on 2011.

But the company’s chief executive Jamie Dimon saw his annual bonus cut in half - to 10 million dollars (£6.3 million) after a damning report following an investigation into its so-called “London Whale” trading loss.

The groups have ensured a strong start to the US bank reporting season, with both firms smashing market expectations.

Goldman reported net earnings nearly trebling to 7.3 billion dollars (£4.6 billion) in 2012, while JP Morgan posted a record 21.3 billion dollars (£13.2 billion) in profits after a 53% surge in the final quarter.

Goldman’s annual haul comes after fourth quarter earnings soared to 2.83 billion dollars (£1.8 billion) compared with 978 million dollars (£612 million) a year earlier after a strong performance from its investment banking arm.

The group yesterday made a climbdown on tax plans that would have potentially cost the Treasury millions of pounds.

Goldman had been proposing to allow bankers receiving bonuses to benefit from the cut in the top rate of income tax from 50p to 45p, announced by Chancellor George Osborne in last year’s Budget, which comes into effect on April 6.

Its U-turn came after pressure from the Bank and Treasury, with Sir Mervyn telling MPs it was “lacking in care and attention” to the rest of society.

But while Goldman’s total in pay and bonuses rose in 2012, the share of revenues paid out in salary and benefits for 2012 fell to 37.9% from 42.4% - the second lowest on record.