Using a sample of US bank mergers from 1995 to 2012, we observe that the pre-post merger changes in CEO bonus are significantly negatively related to the strength of corporate governance within the bidding bank. This suggests that bonus compensation is not consistent with the “optimal contracting hypothesis”. Salary changes, on the other hand, are not affected by corporate governance but are positively correlated with pre-post merger changes in the M/B ratio of the bidding banks, in line with “optimal contracting”. We also find that good governance is associated with more accretive deals for the bidder. Overall, our results are consistent with the notion that, unlike salary and long-term compensation, bonus compensation is not aligned with value creation and is more vulnerable to CEO manipulation in banks with poor corporate governance.