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A jumble of incentives


Hungry ING looks for its next meal

US banks dare to cross cultures

Integration, like so many things on Wall Street, often seems to come down to one word: money. It is about compensation, and whether bankers are paid for their own production, being a team player or the success of the entire institution. How do you lock in newly acquired talent without giving away the store?

"The value created often hinges on the ability to retain people and to ensure that they continue to work effectively." says Moody's Investors Service analyst Haig Nargesion, noting that many combinations in the 1980s, "failed miserably".

Among the techniques used to do so are the special retention and incentive pools, including earnouts (a portion of the purchase price which requires meeting certain earnings or revenue thresholds), and long-term employment contracts with non-competition and non-solicitation provisions.

Nargesion estimates that, since 40% of Alex Brown before the merger was held internally by the management, $680 million was distributed to them.

"It's hard to break out the value of these transactions because earnout provisions are buried in there," he says.

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