Investment bankers at Bank of America will likely get bonuses close to what they got in 2007 as the bank tries to retain key employees following its takeover of Merrill Lynch, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Citing people familiar with the situation, the Journal reported that Bank of America bankers are expected to get 2009 bonuses equal to 2007 levels, with about 25 percent in cash and the rest as deferred payments of stock or cash tied to the company's performance.
Merrill paid out $5.8 billion in year-end bonuses in 2007, the Journal said. It said the size of Bank of America's bonus outlay could not be determined.
Bank of America spokesman Robert Stickler, in a response to a request for comment on the Journal story, said "nothing has been decided" in terms of the bank's 2009 bonus policy.
Brian Moynihan took over as CEO at the bank this month, replacing Ken Lewis, who resigned amid public outcry over billions of dollars in bonuses paid to Merrill Lynch employees just before the firm was acquired by Bank of America.
Last month, the bank based in Charlotte, N.C., repaid $45 billion in government loans, relieving it from government-imposed pay restrictions.
Bank of America had reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over accusations that it failed to tell shareholders it authorized Merrill to pay up to $5.8 billion in 2008 bonuses.
The company agreed to pay the government $33 million without admitting wrongdoing to settle the case, only to have a federal judge reject the agreement. The case is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 1.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is expected to file charges related to bonuses against the bank and several high-ranking officials.
Bank of America lost more than $2.2 billion in the 2009's third quarter as its loan losses kept rising.