03/14/2013 10:06 am ET

UBS Loses $2.6 Billion In 2012, Hands Out $2.6 Billion In Bonuses

Looks like UBS has found its magic number.

The Swiss banking giant paid its top workers $2.6 billion in bonuses in 2012, according to the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. That's the same amount the bank lost that year and just slightly more than the $2.1 billion UBS lost in the fourth quarter alone, thanks in large part to scandals and lawsuits.

The executives made top dollar even as the bank agreed to pay $1.5 billion to settle allegations of Libor rigging. That's a different approach than that taken one year before, when UBS clawed back bonuses of its top-paid investment bankers after the unit posted a $1.32 billion loss thanks to a $2.3 billion rogue trading scandal, according to the Wall Street Journal.

And while the loss-to-bonus ratio may be strikingly neat, it's only one way in which UBS placed pain and pay side by side. UBS announced Thursday that their CEO took home nearly $9 million as part of the bank's giant payout to senior staff, during the same year UBS said it would cut 10,000 workers in an aim to cut costs, according to Reuters. In addition, UBS welcomed its newest executive, Investment Bank Chief Andrea Orcel, with a “golden hello” of $26 million.

Orcel is lucky he got in when he did; Swiss voters approved a referendum earlier this month that will ban the practice of giving executives “golden hellos” or “parachutes” when they join or leave a company. The “Rip Off” initiative also gives shareholders more power over executive pay.

UBS isn’t alone in generously rewarding its workers, however: Global banker pay rose by a total of $13 billion last year, according to a recent Reuters analysis.



Libor Scandal Timeline