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Where will the winners be?

Which business areas and banks will award the biggest bonuses this year? We asked headhunters for their predictions.

Stephen McAlinden, a consultant at executive search firm Eban in Hong Kong, points to people who have successfully invested on behalf of banks. "At managing director level, those involved in principal investment activities will get the biggest bonuses this year," he predicts.

"Below senior management level, equity derivative and investment banking coverage officers in Key North Asian markets will be most likely to benefit," he adds. "Hedge fund executives with strong performance will also do well."

In principal investment, some banks have hit the jackpot, with Goldman Sachs, for example, making $5bn in under six months from its stake in ICBC. Little surprise, therefore, that search consultants predict the likes of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and UBS, will pay the fattest bonuses.

"These firms have been investing in the region for a while, and they are reaping the benefits," says one executive.

Nevertheless, in absolute terms, bankers is remain better off working in the traditional financial centres.

"While the gap is closing, staff in Hong Kong is still somewhat less well-paid than in London and New York simply because the market is smaller," points out McAlinden.

Asian ECM revenues are currently a little less than half of the US' and around two-thirds of London's, according to Dealogic.

Search firm the Option Group, says the most important business areas in Asia are corporate finance and cash equities. Its Global Compensation Report predicts the greenbacks will stack up like this:

Corporate Finance:

1st Year Associate: US$100,000 base, US$100-150,000 bonus.

Vice President: US$150-200,000 base, US$400-500,000 bonus.

Managing Director: US$200,000 base, US$1.2-1.7 million bonus.

Cash equity sales:

1st Year Associate: US$60-80,000 base, US$40-80,000 bonus.

Vice President: US$100-120,000 base, US$300-400,000 bonus.

Managing Director: US$150-200,000 base, US$700-900,000 bonus.

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