Barclays is preparing to kick off the hunt for a successor to chairman John McFarlane, paving the way for the third change at the top of Britain’s second-largest bank since 2012.
Sky News has learnt that Crawford Gillies, Barclays’ senior independent director, is expected to instruct headhunters shortly to conduct a wide search for its next chairman.
Mr McFarlane is expected to step down at the bank’s annual meeting next year, although the timetable remains fluid and could be extended, according to people close to the bank.
Among the leading candidates to replace him will be Sir Gerry Grimstone, who has announced his intention to step down as Standard Life Aberdeen’s chairman next year.
Sir Gerry, who was appointed deputy chairman and senior independent director in 2016, recently relinquished those roles, instead becoming chairman of its non-ring-fenced bank.
He also remains a non-executive director of Barclays’ main board, but handing the SID role to Mr Gillies effectively confirms his interest in succeeding Mr McFarlane.
The search will come at an important time for Barclays, which has just become the first UK lender to formally separate its retail operations from its investment banking unit under reforms which come into effect next year.
The bank has made vital progress in casting aside legacy millstones in recent weeks, announcing last month a $2bn (£1.4bn) settlement with the US Department of Justice for mis-selling mortgage-backed securities before the financial crisis.
However, it continues to face uncertainty over the future of Jes Staley, its chief executive, who remains the subject of an investigation by the City and banking regulators over his treatment of a whistleblower in 2016.
People close to Barclays believe a verdict, which is expected to result in some form of sanctions being imposed, will be announced within weeks of its annual general meeting on May 1.
Clarity over the future of Mr Staley will come as a relief to Barclays’ board and its investors, many of whom have questioned his continued commitment to its capital-hungry investment bank.
The outcome of the watchdogs’ probe could affect the timetable for recruiting Mr McFarlane’s successor, according to insiders.
Other legal hurdles to the group’s revival remain in the form of Serious Fraud Office charges against Barclays’ holding company and its main operating subsidiary, in relation to the emergency fundraisings which helped it avoid a state bailout in 2008.
Mr McFarlane has also had to contend with the appearance on Barclays’ share register of Edward Bramson, an American activist investor, who disclosed a 5.2% stake last month.
Sherborne, Mr Bramson’s investment vehicle, has yet to inform the bank of its intentions, but other investors believe he will seek a more radical shake-up than the one being pursued by the current board.
At its annual results, Barclays said it would hike its dividend for 2018, and pledged to return surplus capital more rapidly to investors.
Mr McFarlane became non-executive chairman of Barclays in April 2015, having been recruited the previous year from Aviva, the FTSE-100 insurer.
He soon stepped into an executive role after ousting Antony Jenkins, Mr Staley’s predecessor as chief executive.
Mr McFarlane replaced Sir David Walker, the banking veteran who was appointed to help repair Barclays’ fractured relationships with shareholders and regulators.
If 2018 is to be his final year as Barclays’ chairman, the Scot, who also chairs TheCityUK lobbying group, will be anxious to see rapid progress in delivering improved shareholder returns.
Soon after taking over in 2015, he pledged to oversee a doubling of the bank’s share price.
At the time, the shares stood at about 260p, but since then they have continued to retreat, closing on Friday at 209.55p.
Barclays declined to comment this weekend.
From – SkyNews