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Reuniting under parisian baron david de rothschild { August 11 2003 }

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August 11, 2003

Rothschild's early payout
By Dan Sabbagh

NM ROTHSCHILD, the blue-blooded merchant bank, paid out annual bonuses early this year to save its employees the extra cost of Gordon Brown’s 1 per cent increase in national insurance contributions.

The bank paid out £63.1 million in all — more than its £50.6 million wage bill — to its 787 staff. On average each staff member received a bonus worth £80,000 on top of a salary of £64,000.

The bonuses, which were revealed in the bank’s annual report published last week, were paid in March, before the end of Rothschild’s financial year. In recent years the awards were made in the early summer, when the bank was sure exactly how much profit it had available for distribution.

Nobody from Rothschild was available for comment yesterday. However, it is understood that the timing was brought forward to avoid any budget tax increases, including the previously flagged national insurance increase. The financial year begins in April.

The average payouts conceal wide disparties in the pay actually received by the bank’s staff. The highest paid director, who is not named, earned £2.7 million, placing him or her easily in the ranks of the UK’s leading earners.

Executive directors as a whole earned £22.1 million including bonuses, £2 million less than last year. That means that each of the 34 executives took home an average of £650,000.

The bonuses were paid out of operating profits of £82.3 million, down 8 per cent from last year. In 2002 the total bonus pool was £68.4 million, 8 per cent higher than this year, although the number of employees was also greater, meaning that the average payout was only slighter higher at £82,500.

During the past financial year the bank advised National Grid on its £14.8 billion merger with Lattice Group, Enterprise Oil on its £4.3 billion sale to Shell and Vivendi Universal on its €20 billion refinancing. The bank was ranked number one by value of deals in the UK during 2002 and number one for announced deals in Europe.

The London-based NM Rothschild will shortly merge with its Parisian namesake, reuniting the family firm under the leadership of Baron David de Rothschild, who heads the French operation.

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