Merrill Sued by Private Equity Banker for $14 Million Bonus

Matthew Turner, a former private equity executive at Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit, sued the company for about $14 million in bonuses he says were promised and never paid.

Turner, who was head of private equity for Europe, the Middle East and Africa before leaving the bank in June 2011, claimed its Merrill Lynch International subsidiary breached the terms of his contract, according to documents from his London lawsuit filed in December.

The $14 million includes a share of profits from two Merrill Lynch funds and some of the proceeds from deals he worked on, including the bank’s sale of Foxtons Ltd. loans to Haymarket Financial LLP in 2010.

Turner’s lawsuit is one of the largest individual bonus claims filed in London, where Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s former risk chief, an ex-BlueBay Asset Management salesman and a Glencore International Plc trader fired for drinking have all sued their former employers in recent months to recoup compensation.

Bank of America spokeswoman Victoria Garrod declined to comment. Turner’s lawyer Joanna Blackburn didn’t immediately respond to a phone call and e-mail seeking comment.

Turner gave up “valuable compensation” including bonuses and carried interest, or a share of a fund’s profits, from his former employer Palamon Capital Partners to join Merrill in 2007, he said in court documents.

Foxtons Bonus

Merrill Lynch denied breach of contract, in court documents setting out its defense. Turner didn’t ask for an interest in one of the funds until he was put on notice he’d be losing his job, while the Foxtons bonus was “unprecedented” and was never finalized, the bank said.

European lawmakers said yesterday they would curb banker pay by imposing strict limits on the size of bonuses in relation to salaries. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has previously opposed the changes, said he would seek a compromise ahead of a meeting of EU finance ministers next week.

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