Wall Street's rich getting richer, but not as quickly

July 02, 1992|By Thomas Easton | Thomas Easton,Financial WorldNew York Bureau

NEW YORK -- It's getting tougher to get obscenely rich on Wall Street. Compensation for the biggest guys is down, and the deal makers just didn't make the really big deals last year.

That's the conclusion of the editors of Financial World magazine, which revived its 100 richest people on Wall Street issue this year after hearing myriad complaints from readers last year when it restricted the list to the top 22 -- inaccurately suspecting people no longer cared.

To make the list, a 1991 income of at least $5 million was required. The 1988 and 1989 floor was $6 million. The median dropped from $15 million four years ago to $9 million. The annual earnings of Henry Kravis and George Roberts of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the controlling owners of RJR Nabisco and many other companies, plunged to $45 million each from $80 million. They ranked No. 7 and No. 8.

The income slide prompted Financial World in its July 21 issue to title its survey "Wall Street's New Austerity," but even though top pay has declined, noted Senior Editor Stephen Taub, it isn't all that bad. "They still made a lot of money."

Most of the really big earners did so through money management, including the man ranked No. 1, George Soros, who was estimated to have earned $117 million in 1991.

A special category was created for partners of Goldman Sachs because 40 of them would have qualified for the list, leaving little room for others. Michael Ovitz, Hollywood agent to the stars, including Madonna and Steven Spielberg, finished ninth, earning estimated $40 million.

Earnings last year were depressed by many factors. The Drexel Burnham team, once the backbone of the list is gone. Merger activity was slow. Many of those investing in leveraged buyouts in the 1980s delayed cashing out. Equity offerings were used mainly to bolster balance sheets. Another round of offerings could emerge soon, Mr. Taub said. Most of the big earners live in the New York area, encompassing the city and the nearby New Jersey and Connecticut suburbs, as well as a small representation from California and the Boston area. None came from the mid-Atlantic.

At one point the editors reviewed compensation at T. Rowe Price, the large mutual fund company in Baltimore, but they concluded that although the published figures resembled those of the large New York brokerage operations, there was a zero missing at the end of each sum.

Highest-paid people on Wall Street

1) George Soros (Soros Fund

Management).. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..$117 million

2) Julian Robertson (Tiger

Management).. .. .. .. .. .. .. ....65 million

3) Paul Tudor Jones II (Tudor

Investment).. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .60 million

4) Bruce Kovner

(Caxton Corp.).. .. .. .. .. .. .. .60 million

5) Michael Steinhardt (Steinhardt

Partners).. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 55 million

6) John Henry (John W. Henry

& Co.).. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 50 million

7) Henry Kravis (Kohlberg Kravis

Roberts).. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .45 million

8) George Roberts (Kohlberg Kravis

Roberts).. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 45 million

9) Michael Ovitz (independent

adviser).. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .40 million

10) Robert MacDonnell (Kohlberg

Kravis Roberts).. .. .. .. .. .. .. 35 million

Figures are minimum compensation

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