Not one, not two, but three (year guarantees)

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Rumour has it commodities traders are commanding three-year guarantees. Just how prevalent is the multi-year mega-payout?

Very - if you're talking two-year guaranteed bonuses. Not very - when it comes to anything longer. Jason Kennedy, managing partner of search firm Kennedy Associates, breaks the bad news: "Three-year guarantees are a one-off thing," he tell us. "They only occur when a bank feels it's lagging behind and needs to fill a hole, and usually only apply to heads of global businesses. The circumstances need to be exceptional."

Did exceptional arise in the case of David Silbert? The former global head of commodities at Merrill Lynch is joining Deutsche Bank in a similar role early this year. According to the Financial Times last week, Silbert's package at the German bank amounts to 10m to 15m over the next three years.

Deutsche Bank confirmed Silbert's appointment, but declined to say anything about how much it's paying him.

Calyon catching on?

If mega-guarantees are to be found elsewhere, headhunters say it's likely to be among Silbert's colleagues in the overheated commodities market. In particular, French bank Calyon is rumoured to be in the market for a replacement for Etienne Amic, its former global head of commodities, who reputedly left late in 2006.

Given tight hiring conditions, Amic's replacement may be in a strong position to demand a Silbert-style guarantee. "Calyon are not a bad operation, but neither are they are Goldman or an absolute start-up," says one headhunter. "Unless they're willing to offer a long guarantee it could be hard to lure top-notch talent."

French banks aren't best known for their largesse, so whether Calyon will pay up is another matter.

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