EU agrees bank bonuses limit deal

Image caption,
EU commissioner Olli Rehn announced the deal

The European Union has agreed a deal placing new limits on bankers' bonuses from next year.

Under a deal agreed with the European Parliament, bankers will receive no more than 30% of their bonus immediately and in cash, or 20% for larger bonuses.

The remaining bonus payments will be delayed and linked to long-term performance, with 50% paid in shares.

Hedge funds will also be covered by the new rules.

That will place the pay of hedge fund managers in the City of London under regulation for the first time, the BBC's business editor Robert Peston said.

"The new rules won't make a big difference to bankers based in London," he said.

'End to risk-taking'

"The Financial Services Authority has already imposed conditions on them which many bankers would see as tougher.

"But the rules will have a big impact on hedge funds and other asset management firms."

Plans to place hedge funds under the same pay regulations as banks were first unveiled in November last year, as part of the EU's controversial Alternative Investment Fund Managers directive.

The new rules have been agreed by EU member states and the European Parliament, though the parliament will hold a formal vote next week.

The agreement includes proposals to link bonuses more closely to salaries and the long-term performance of the bank.

Large severance packages for departing executives will also be limited.

"These tough new rules on bonuses will transform the bonus culture and end incentives for excessive risk taking," said Arlene McCarthy, one MEP involved in negotiating the deal.

The limits will apply to all 27 EU member states, although similar rules are already in place in countries including the UK.

However, the rules do not limit the size of bonuses that can be paid to bankers, only the proportions that must be paid in cash and shares, and the timing of those payments.

That reflects the agreement reached by the G20 countries last year, which fell short of imposing caps on the amounts bankers could be paid in bonuses.

Image caption,
London is home to 80% of Europe's hedge funds

The inclusion of hedge funds in the new European rules is likely to alarm many in the City of London, where 80% of European funds are based.

Last month EU finance ministers agreed tougher regulation for the industry, despite objections from the UK government.

The EU's plans are the latest sign of a tightening of global regulation of the financial industry since the catastrophic financial crisis in the autumn of 2008.

In the US, Congress has still to vote on legislation designed to overhaul its financial sector in order to prevent excessive risk taking.

A final vote by the Senate is now not expected until next week, due to Republican opposition.

But the lack of strong plans to regulate bonuses has also drawn criticism from Democrats.