Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Chief Executive Robert Kelly said he opposes a limit on bankers' bonuses, saying it could make senior executives quit.

Pay caps would discriminate between domestic banks and other financial firms such as international banks or asset managers that would not be covered by the restraint, Mr. Kelly said in an interview Thursday.

"The unintended consequences of an unlevel playing field could mean that at a time when you want stability in senior management and you want your banks to be more successful again, I would worry that you could potentially lose senior executives," he said.

BNY Mellon has not disclosed Mr. Kelly's compensation for 2008. He was paid $20.1 million in 2007, including a $975,000 in salary and a $7.5 million bonus, according to regulatory filings. He also received stock awards of $3.6 million, option awards of $2.09 million, and deferred compensation of $4.28 million, filings show.

"My worry isn't so much about the top person like myself or the top company people," he said. "What you don't want that to translate to is impacting the bonuses of your top revenue generators in the company, whether they be asset managers, or derivative traders, or foreign exchange traders."

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