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Credit Suisse Hunger Games as bankers compete for retention packages

Credit Suisse bankers and traders have a new purpose in life: receiving one of the retention packages signifying they'll be retained by the bank when it becomes part of UBS. However, not everyone is getting one and those who do are seemingly being selected partly at random.

"Notices of retention are being awarded, containing the guarantees," says one senior Credit Suisse insider. "It's only managing directors and directors so far, and they'll be moving on to analysts and associates next week."

Bloomberg reported last week that the retention packages for senior employees include a combination of cash and UBS shares, with a deferred component and an award contingent on performance. Both Credit Suisse and UBS declined to comment on the issue. 

Although the packages are being issued by Credit Suisse, insiders say the impetus for the awards is coming from UBS which has been meeting Credit Suisse people to determine who it wants to keep and who it doesn't.  

"Some people met UBS five times and didn't get an offer," says one insider. "Some people met them once and got one. It all seems really random."

UBS chief executive Sergio Ermotti said this week that the Swiss bank is planning to close its merger with Credit Suisse by the end of May or early June. However, UBS chairman Colm Kelleher said previously that the full integration will take up to four years. 

Despite allegations of randomness, insiders say many of the offers so far have been issued to people in areas where UBS has gaps. "They're going after people who are real revenue generators in areas like healthcare banking and parts of technology banking," says the insider. "A lot of them are people they would have liked to have hired from Credit Suisse in the past."

When the rescue of Credit Suisse was announced at the end of March, Kelleher said UBS was particularly interested in Credit Suisse's US and technology bankers. Since then, though, it's made some surprise senior hires from Barclays in New York. 

The rescue of Credit Suisse is providing UBS with an opportunity to pick off top staff at its former Swiss rival without paying recruiter fees or guarantees. "They can get directors on immediate starts with no recruitment fees, no clawbacks and there's no severance cost," says one insider. 

However, amidst the clamour for recognition, it's not always clear who Credit Suisse top performers are - especially further down the hierarchy. "The data is pretty limited and they basically seem to be working on a combination of client feedback and coffee conversations," the insider adds.

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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