PaineWebber is offering upfront bonuses of between 10 percent and 50 percent of annual gross production to retain J.C. Bradford & Co. brokers. The bonuses are in the form of a four-year forgivable loan, according to sources.

Bradford brokers began receiving new employment contracts from PaineWebber in early May. No details were available at press time about what production levels qualify for which bonus amount.

On April 28, PaineWebber announced its plans to acquire Nashville, Tenn.-based Bradford for 620 dollars million in cash. The merger adds 902 producers to PaineWebber's retail sales force.

PaineWebber has reportedly earmarked more than 100 million dollars for employee retention costs.

Bradford brokers expressed pleasant surprise not only about the bonuses, but also about the fact that the employment agreement has no deadline and no noncompete clause.

"I'm flabbergasted," says one veteran producer who received his employment package. "The first thing you ask yourself when you look at one of these packages is, 'OK, how am I getting screwed this time?' This looks like an amicable deal--no arm-bending."

In May, PaineWebber President Joseph Grano was meeting with Bradford brokers in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Florida and Alabama.

Another Bradford rep who had not received his package was eagerly awaiting Grano's arrival. "All we've had are rumors and speculation" about retention incentives, he says.