Mega Money in Moscow?

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Can M&A bankers really earn more in Moscow?

Recently, Bloomberg reported that Russia's top bankers are earning packages worth $7 million, double the payouts of their Wall Street colleagues.

This isn't the first time Moscow's finest have attracted attention. Back in the dark days of 2003, Renaissance Capital was said to have hired Chris Baxter from Credit Suisse on a package worth $4 million over two years. And last summer, the Times of London ran a story claiming Russia's banks were offering even relatively junior bankers bonuses of 420,000.

However, recruiters warn not to get carried away with such tales of Eastern largesse. "This is only true for the heads of investment banking and corporate finance," says Olga Selivanova, a Russian-focused consultant at search firm Morgan Hunt. "There are only four or five people making this sort of money ($7 million)."

Taru Oksman-Ison, a partner at search firm Principal Search, agrees. "It's such a narrow market that half-a-dozen people get silly money, but the rest are not going to get much more than in New York or London."

Moscow is still an alluring option for VP-level corporate financiers who speak Russian, says Oksman-Ison. "It's a great place to get responsibility early and to the be in the middle of some of today's most exciting transaction flows."

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