Friday 18 October 2019

Barclays boss poised for meeting with activist Bramson

Edward Bramson has called for the lender to curtail its investment banking arm.

Jes Staley will meet an activist investor next week (PA)
Jes Staley will meet an activist investor next week (PA)

By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor

Barclays boss Jes Staley will meet face-to-face with Edward Bramson next week, when the activist investor is expected to further elaborate on his vision for the banking giant.

Mr Bramson, through his investment vehicle Sherborne, holds a 5.5% stake in Barclays and will be meeting the bank chief and finance director Tushar Morzaria in New York on Tuesday as part of a shareholder roadshow.

Since coming clean about Sherborne’s holding in Barclays last year, Mr Bramson has called for the lender to curtail its investment banking arm, increase returns for investors and demanded a board seat.

In January, Mr Bramson said the corporate and investment bank has “legacy strategic weaknesses in customer and product mix that fundamentally limit the yield on assets it can achieve”.

Jes Staley will meet Edward Bramson next week (Barclays/PA)

It is understood Mr Bramson has been attempting to drum up support from other investors in the bank for his proposals.

However, both Mr Staley and Barclays’ outgoing chairman John McFarlane have recommended shareholders oppose his appointment to the top table.

Mr Staley said in February: “I think the more engagement that we can have, the better. The more we understand his views and the more he understands our views, the more constructive the dialogue.

“We want to hear his view because banks are very complicated to run and we want to gather all the views and thoughts that our shareholders have.

“I just don’t believe in order to have that engagement, he needs to be on the board.”

The American has also rejected the notion of cutting back the investment bank.

Mr Staley said in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos that he had had a “reasonable engagement” with Mr Bramson, but the corporate raider is yet to reveal a clear strategy.

This was echoed by Mr MacFarlane, who said Mr Bramson has “made some critical points” but “hasn’t come up with a solution”.

Earlier this week, Barclays said goodbye to three board directors – Reuben Jeffery, Dambisa Moyo and Mike Turner – who will stand down at the bank’s annual meeting in May.

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