Raider Ed Bramson wants say over Barclays chairman search

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Activist investor Ed Bramson’s fund on Wednesday said it was holding talks with Barclays about the bank’s choice of replacement for chairman John McFarlane.

The veteran investor’s fund, Sherborne, said it was engaging with Barclays about the “search process for and mandate of“ a successor for McFarlane when he steps down as one element in a campaign to shake up the bank.  

Bramson, who buys small stakes in companies and then lobbies for dramatic change, revealed a 5.4% stake in Barclays in March but has kept his plans for the company private until now. 

City veteran McFarlane has rebuffed talk of an early exit but the board is seeking a replacement in a search led by senior independent director Crawford Gillies. 

Bramson has typically demanded a personal boardroom seat on the companies he targets — he ousted the chairman of fund manager F&C and put himself in charge — although he has so far stopped short of doing the same at Barclays. 

McFarlane told a meeting of shareholders in May they were “not getting rid of me yet” and promised to only stand down when the time is right. Bramson did not attend the meeting.  

The chairman, who has also chaired Aviva, had reportedly held talks over a controversial plan to merge Barclays with emerging markets bank Standard Chartered in a bid to see off Bramson. 

Sherborne said talks with Barclays’ had focused on the bank’s use of capital, profits and how costs are structured. 

“Addressing these matters could improve Barclays’ financial strength and its long-term competitive position,” Sherborne said.

Sherborne added it would carry on talking to Barclays but may cut off talks when it was “appropriate to do so”. 

So far the Sherborne vehicle has seen its investment in Barclays misfire. The value of the fund’s Barclays stake declined to £607 million from £696 million after an 11% decline in Barclays share price over the period.  

Bramson’s fund has remained silent publicly on plans for the bank although he had told investors he wanted Barclays to shrink its investment bank and return cash tied up in it to shareholders.  

Barclays fended off some of Sherborne’s accusations last week by reporting string results last week, tripling pre-tax profits while the investment bank helped bolsters revenue.

Barclays declined to comment.



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August 8, 2018 |
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