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February 17, 2009
Bank Executive Gives $60 Million to Employees
A CEO who sold a majority stake in a Miami-based bank last fall has given $60 million of his profits to the bank’s employees.

The Miami Herald reports that Leonard Abess Jr. designated $60 million of the proceeds from the $927 million sale of his majority stake in City National Bancshares as bonuses for the nearly 400 employees on the bank’s payroll. Abess even tracked down some 72 former employees of the bank in order to reward them with bonuses, too. Some longtime employees received 5-figure bonuses, and some even more than $100,000, according to the newspaper.

Abess, who reportedly did not seek publicity for his large act of generosity, said he had put much thought over the years as to how he could reward his employees: “Those people who joined me and stayed with me at the bank with no promise of equity—I always thought some day I'm going to surprise them,” he told the Herald.

”I saw that if the president doesn't come to work, it's not a big deal,” Abess explained. “But if the tellers don't show up, it's a serious problem.'”

Abess, whose father had co-founded the bank in 1946, bought majority control of it in 1985, and it has grown from $400 million to $2.75 billion in assets since. He acknowledged that he was concerned that his employees’ 401(k)s had been hit hard in the economic recession. “I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn't feel right getting the money myself,” he told the Herald.

''We expected a bonus, but the type we received -- our mouths are still open,'' explained one employee.

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''It was like a lottery, only better,'' said another. ``Because it came from someone's heart.''

Source: The Miami Herald

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