The indignities of an investment banker in China

By Felix Salmon
June 22, 2010
Michael Flaherty's story about the indignities facing the poor bankers working on the AgBank IPO in China: the data room is underground! And they might have to miss World Cup matches!

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Whenever the subject of banker pay comes up, there’s always an apologist somewhere talking about how very hard these people work — nights, weekends, everything!

Which is why I had a good giggle this morning on reading Michael Flaherty’s story about the indignities facing the poor bankers working on the AgBank IPO in China: the data room is underground! And they might have to miss World Cup matches!

The AgBank deal is coming to a head just as investment bankers are used to taking time off for summer — or to watch the soccer World Cup. If they thought the workflow in Beijing may slow a bit in the last few weeks, they were mistaken.

Members of the Hong Kong underwriting group grumbled when they were summoned for a meeting in Beijing at 9.00 p.m. on a recent Friday.

Some AgBank executives have a habit of sending ideas to the core e-mail group very late at night, one of the sources said.

Worst of all, the banks have no idea how many millions they’ll be paid for their work:

While, for some, the prestige of being involved in what is likely to be a record IPO outweighs the pain of the tightly controlled process, the bankers still don’t know how much they’ll be paid.

Sources say the seven banks involved in the Hong Kong offering expect a fee of around 3 percent. If AgBank raises $12 billion for the H-share IPO, that would mean a fee pool of $360 million — an average of around $50 million each, though it’s unlikely each bank would be paid the same.

Doesn’t your heart just bleed.

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