Bram­son raises eye­brows with new bid to shrink Bar­clays’ in­vest­ment arm

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Lucy Bur­ton

COR­PO­RATE raider Ed Bram­son has stepped up his cam­paign to shrink Bar­clays’ in­vest­ment bank, rais­ing eye­brows from share­hold­ers cheered by the divi­sion’s bumper per­for­mance dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Mr Bram­son said the lender must con­sider dras­tic cuts to boost its share price, and called for it to fol­low in the foot­steps of Deutsche Bank by fo­cus­ing on re­tail oper­a­tions in­stead.

But the de­mands in­fu­ri­ated ma­jor Bar­clays back­ers. The in­vest­ment bank­ing arm was boosted by a surge in trad­ing vol­umes over the past few months when mar­kets crashed, help­ing prop up prof­its as the lender set aside £1.9bn to cover soured loans in other parts of its busi­ness. In a let­ter to his fi­nan­cial back­ers, Mr Bram­son said: “In the real world, in­vestors con­tin­u­ally show that they just do not care very much about the trad­ing busi­ness.

“If Bar­clays sin­cerely in­tends to pri­ori­tise share­holder value, this is some­thing that – like Deutsche Bank – it will need to un­der­stand.”

Mr Bram­son – whose firm Sher­borne In­vestors is the big­gest share­holder in Bar­clays with a 5.9pc stake – said in his let­ter that the coro­n­avirus had sig­nif­i­cantly distorted bank­ing re­sults. Bar­clays’ ma­jor in­vestors have largely been against his cam­paign. On Tues­day, one said his plan is “be­yond ir­rel­e­vant” in the face of the Covid cri­sis.

Mr Bram­son’s ef­forts to get him­self ap­pointed to the board of Bar­clays flopped last year when he was sup­ported by other share­hold­ers con­trol­ling just 4pc of the stock. The ac­tivist later pledged to ease off so that new chair­man Nigel Hig­gins could tackle the chal­lenges at Bar­clays.

But he re­newed the cam­paign this Fe­bru­ary when UK reg­u­la­tors launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into boss Jes Sta­ley’s links with pae­dophile Jef­frey Ep­stein, who was a key client when the banker worked at JP Mor­gan. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is con­tin­u­ing.

A spokesman for Bar­clays de­clined to com­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.