Financial News

  • 20 February 2014, 5:14

Barclays Turns To Jenkins Firm For New Chair

Barclays is turning to the headhunting firm which oversaw the appointment of its current chief executive to lead the search for a new chairman as the bank braces for fresh change in its top ranks.

Sky News understands that Spencer Stuart, one of the City's top headhunters, will in the next few weeks draw up a list of potential candidates to succeed Sir David Walker.

The firm led the search which resulted in the appointment of Antony Jenkins as Barclays chief executive in August 2012.

News of the process to identify a new chairman - revealed by Sky News at the weekend - comes as the bank recovers from another torrid week, which began with revelations of the theft of customer data and was compounded by confirmation that it was increasing bonus payouts to £2.4bn despite a slide in profits.

Barclays used a rival firm, MWM Consulting, to recruit Sir David 18 months ago, with a brief to revive its battered reputation.

Those efforts have so far met with limited success, with rows about bankers' pay echoing the conflicts that marred Barclays' relations with investors under Mr Jenkins' predecessor, Bob Diamond.

Internal contenders for the chairmanship may include Sir Mike Rake, the deputy chairman, who is also president of the CBI and  chairman of BT Group.

Tim Breedon, a former Legal & General chief executive who now sits on the Barclays board as a non-executive director, is another possible candidate.

Sir David is not expected to step down as Barclays' chairman until he has served for three years, taking him through to the summer of 2015.

Insiders said the fact that headhunters had been hired so far in advance of that date illustrated the difficulty of finding suitably-qualified candidates for bank chairmanships.

The role at Barclays would once have been among the most prestigious in British business, but recent controversies are expected to deter some external candidates.

The row over bonuses could be especially damaging for the bank given that shareholders injected almost £6bn last year to help shore up Barclays' finances.

City investors are furious about the hike in investment bank pay and some are threatening to vote against Barclays' pay report at April's annual general meeting.

Sir David, who scrutinised a report for the City regulator on the near-collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland, has also served on the boards of companies including National Power and Legal & General.

Now 74, he will be determined to ensure that his final year at the helm is characterised by some of the progress of remuneration and behavioural reform that he pledged when he took on the role.

Since replacing Mr Diamond, Mr Jenkins has pledged to make Barclays a stakeholder-friendly bank by boosting shareholder dividends and punishing employees whose behaviour does not meet exacting standards.

However, Barclays has continued to face legacy issues including a Serious Fraud Office probe into a rescue fundraising in 2008, and, like other banks, sizeable compensation bills for insurance and swaps mis-selling.

Barclays declined to comment on the appointment of Spencer Stuart.

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