Controversial bonus windfall for Nordea heads

Capital Markets, the investment banking arm of Nordic finance giant Nordea, has awarded record bonuses for 2009 to staff and senior managers despite criticism from its major shareholder the Swedish state.

The amount awarded in the bonus programme is the equivalent of the sum paid out in salaries and pensions, a total of 2.9 billion kronor ($400 million).

The figure means that Nordea Capital Markets’ top managers will receive an average of 10 million kronor apiece in bonuses for 2009.

Financial markets minister Mats Odell has demanded an end to bonuses and flexible pay structures in companies with state ownership.

But Nordea’s CEO Christian Clausen and chairperson Hans Dahlborg have defended the bonus programme. Their line of reasoning has been that the bonuses would equate to only around 10 percent of total Nordea staff costs.

Odell sees few alternatives at his disposal to prevent the bonus programme payouts.

“The state has its view. But not that many of the owners with whom we have been in contact agree with the state’s position,” Odell’s press secretary, Mia Widell, told the Sydsvenskan daily.

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