Two years of heavy merger activity have spawned not only banks of unprecedented scale, but also demands for dizzying rewards from sellers.

Frank N. Newman, chairman and chief executive officer of Bankers Trust Corp., is about to receive a five-year package worth $55 million from Deutsche Bank AG, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

Mr. Newman, who in November signed an agreement to sell Bankers Trust to the German banking giant, would get an annual salary of $900,000 and a guaranteed yearly bonus of $10 million, according to the sources.

Mr. Newman is to serve on the board of directors and as co-head of global corporate and investment banking.

A Bankers Trust spokesman declined to confirm the information.

Consultants said Mr. Newman's compensation package would be typical of others negotiated during the merger wave of the last two years. CEOs of companies that have been sold often received compensation agreements that rival those of professional athletes.

Deutsche Bank's $10.1 billion acquisition of Bankers Trust is set to close by the end of the second quarter.

The combined bank would be the world's largest in assets, with $831 billion. BT currently ranks as the eighth-largest U.S. bank, with $133 billion of assets.

During his tenure, Mr. Newman beefed up Bankers Trust's investment banking capabilities through acquisitions at home and abroad.

When it announced the merger, Deutsche Bank said it was attracted to Bankers Trust primarily because of its equity underwriting, asset management, and securities processing capabilities.

"They've taken their banks and built them so that some day they can take on institutions outside the U.S.," said Rosemarie Orens, a consultant at William M. Mercer Inc., New York. "They're saying, 'This is the price for having done that.'"

Mr. Newman has ranked among the 10 highest-paid U.S. bankers since his arrival at Bankers Trust in 1996. But his annual pay at Deutsche Bank would be even higher.

According to a proxy statement filed last year with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr. Newman received a salary of $900,000 and a bonus of $7.5 million in cash and stock in 1997. Figures for 1998-in which Bankers Trust recorded a $6 million loss-are not yet available.

Other recently closed acquisitions have meant similar rewards for sellers.

Paul Hazen, chairman of San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co., signed a five-year contract for at least $16 million in his company's merger with Minneapolis-based Norwest Corp., according to data compiled by William M. Mercer Inc. The figure does not include stock options and grants of restricted stock.

The Wells Fargo-Norwest deal closed in November, creating the seventh- largest U.S. bank, with $202 billion of assets.

After BankAmerica Corp. merged last year with NationsBank, former BankAmerica chairman David A. Coulter signed a five-year deal that Mercer pegged at $25 million, not including stock options and restricted stock.

The merger created the nation's second-largest bank, with $617 billion of assets. Mr. Coulter was pushed out in October after the company announced losses associated with the New York hedge fund operator D.E. Shaw & Co.

Former CoreStates Financial Corp. chairman Terrence Larsen signed a five-year deal worth at least $12.5 million, not including stock options, according to Mercer. CoreStates was sold to Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union Corp. in April 1998, forming the nation's sixth-largest bank, with $237 billion of assets.

Mr. Larsen left the combined company in July and, according to First Union spokeswoman Sandy Deem, he is eligible to receive all the money called for in the contract-even though he retired early.

At Barnett Banks Inc. of Jacksonville, Fla., which was sold to NationsBank, now BankAmerica, in January of last year, former chairman Charles Rice got a three-year package worth at least $10.5 million, not including stock options and restricted stock.

Mr. Rice is now vice chairman of corporate development of the combined bank, based in Jacksonville.

Observers said Mr. Newman is not expected to stay with Deutsche Bank for the full five years of his contract.

But even if he does not stay much beyond the closing date, these packages are "a recognition of what these CEOs have brought to the table," said Diane Posnak, a compensation expert at Pearl Meyer & Partners of New York.

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