CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( TheStreet) -- Bank of America's ( BAC) investment bankers are likely to get bonuses that are close to 2007 levels as the bank tries to keep employees following its takeover of Merrill Lynch , the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the situation. Bank of America bankers are expected to get bonuses equal to what they got in 2007, but the overall average is likely to be "somewhat" lower, a person told the Journal. The year 2007 wasn't a record year for bonuses at the combined firm, this person added. Under the basic formula likely to be used by Bank of America, about 25% of 2009 bonuses will be paid in cash, with the rest as deferred payments of stock or cash that will vary in value with the company's performance, the Journal reports.
Merrill Lynch handed out $5.8 billion in year-end bonuses in 2007, said people familiar with the figures, the Journal reports. The size of Bank of America's bonus pool in 2007 couldn't be determined. Bank of America spokesman Robert Stickler declined to comment on specific bonus amounts for the newspaper, but said the figures still could change and must be approved by the bank's board. Bank of America's move could again bring controversy over Merrill's high compensation culture. Merrill employees received $3.6 billion in bonuses for 2008, triggering probes that contributed to the unexpected retirement of Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis, the Journal notes, and to the appointment of Brian Moynihan as CEO. -- Written by Joseph Woelfel in New York.