UBS bonus pool surges 14%, as others cut compensation

ZURICH (BLOOMBERG) - UBS Group AG raised its bonus pool by 14 per cent in 2015, with chief executive officer Sergio Ermotti receiving a 37 per cent increase, as other lenders slashed compensation.

Mr Ermotti received an overall compensation of 14.3 million Swiss francs (S$20.1 million), including a bonus of 11.5 million francs, the bank said in its annual report Friday (March 18). The bonus pool swelled to 3.5 billion francs from 3.06 billion francs in 2014.

UBS's disclosure comes after Deutsche Bank AG and Credit Suisse Group AG both reduced their bonus pools by 11 per cent, with investment bankers taking the largest extent of cuts. While some of Europe's largest lenders posted losses in 2015, hurt by a slump in trading revenue and costs tied to restructuring plans, UBS posted the strongest profit since 2010.

"Our compensation decisions reflect our commitment to deliver competitive compensation for excellent performance, Ann Godbehere, who leads the pay committee in UBS's board of directors, said in the report.

"The performance award pool also reflects the reduced impact on our results of expenses for provisions relating to litigation, regulatory and similar matters," she said.

Mr Ermotti's bonus included 1 million francs in undeferred cash awards after a similar payment for 2014 was scrapped. UBS's executive board members received 93.4 million francs in aggregate total compensation for 2015, according to the annual report.

The Swiss lender said it has cut deferral rates for performance awards for employees "at the lower end of the" scale to help raise the share of cash compensation.

Credit Suisse, which is shrinking the securities unit to focus on wealth management, will publish its annual report next week. CEO Tidjane Thiam has already said he will take a bonus cut to reflect the bank's performance in 2015.

At UBS, lower legal costs helped the bank deliver a net income of 6.2 billion francs in 2015, a 79 per cent increase over the previous year and its best performance since 2010.