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London led growing ranks of EU's million euro bankers in 2015

By Huw Jones

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain boasted the most bankers earning more than a million euros a year in the European Union during 2015, with their overall ranks rising despite policymakers' efforts to curb pay.

Figures released on Thursday by the European Banking Authority (EBA) showed the number of high earners in banking hit 5,142 in 2015, up from 3,865 in 2014, with 80 percent of those paid above a million euros based in London.

"The largest population of high earners in the EU of 4,133 is located in the United Kingdom...and most of them are remunerated in pounds," the EBA said in a statement.

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The figures are affected by changes in the value of the pound and the euro, although as the EU's biggest financial center, Britain has long dominated the high earners table.

"In most of the other member states, the number of high earners also slightly increased," the EBA added.

Bonuses across the EU were capped at twice fixed salaries for the region's bankers in 2014 and the EBA data showed this ceiling was being respected by the firms it tracks.

The watchdog said the average ratio of fixed pay to bonuses for all those earning a million euros or more rose from 127 percent in 2014 to 147 percent in 2015.

This was well under the 200 percent limit, although waivers from regulators in several member states meant the ratio largely bust the 200 percent limit at asset managers that form part of banking groups, where it hit 468 percent.

EBA banker pay figures for 2016 are due in early 2018 and will likely reflect a slump in sterling in the immediate aftermath of Britain's vote to quit the EU last June.

Banks in Britain are also deciding whether to shift operations to the continent ahead of the UK's anticipated departure from the EU in 2019, which could cut the number of high earners in the UK.

(Editing by Alexander Smith)