Expect 'tough calls', Barclays chairman tells employees

LONDON • Barclays chairman John McFarlane told staff in a memo that the company will have to make some "tough calls" in the coming weeks as he seeks to boost returns, according to a person with knowledge of the contents.

The lender must do more for shareholders, Mr McFarlane, 68, wrote in the memo, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

A spokesman for the bank in London declined to comment.

Mr McFarlane fired chief executive officer Antony Jenkins in July after growing frustrated with the slow pace of restructuring. He has pledged to step up the pace of his overhaul and press on with cost cuts and disposals to bolster earnings, which have been battered by surging litigation costs. The lender last week sold its Portugal business for about €100 million (S$158 million) to Spain's Bankinter.

Barclays shares have increased about 6.5 per cent this year after dropping 11 per cent last year under Mr Jenkins. That is the best performance this year among Britain's five biggest lenders.

In his latest address to staff, Mr McFarlane said while the bank has made "genuine progress", it needs to focus on driving core earnings growth, cutting bureaucracy and promoting ethical standards, according to the source.

Barclays announced in July it would cut more risk-weighted assets at its non-core unit than previously planned, lowering such assets to about £20 billion (S$43.7 billion) by 2017. The bank had previously targeted a reduction to £45 billion by the end of next year.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2015, with the headline 'Expect 'tough calls', Barclays chairman tells employees'. Print Edition | Subscribe