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McFarlane takes temporary charge at bank

Barclays chief Jenkins ousted over ‘slow pace of growth’

Antony JenkinsUpdated 9.30am: Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins was fired last night because the board felt the company had become cumbersome and the pace of change and growth was too slow.

John McFarlane, who was installed today as executive chairman, told a media conference call this morning that Jenkins had done a “brilliant” job stabilising the bank in the aftermath of the financial crash.

But a change was needed to take the bank forward after “rumblings” among non-executive directors. Following two weeks of meetings the decision to remove Mr Jenkins was unanimous and he was informed of his fate last night.

“He was completely professional though it was a difficult thing for him to swallow,” said McFarlane who accepted the parallels in this decision with that which took place when he chaired insurer Aviva.

But he rejected the nickname “Mac the Knife”, saying: “Knife is the wrong connotation. This is about acceleration. I am decisive, fair enough. Look at my track record – it is about growth and return, not just about cost.”

A search for a successor to Mr Jenkins is under way, but Mr McFarlane said the board was in no rush to make an appointment. He said the company was in much better shape and the board was “very positive” about the role Mr Jenkins had played.

“We mean that genuinely, but that phase is over. We need to accelerate shareholder value. There is a real sense of urgency to make this happen. We had some concerns that the pace was slowing.

“We are now moving forward on bringing shareholder results to the fore. The stock price is where it was six years ago.  We need to reward shareholders better than that. The company is quite cumbersome in execution. We need to be more clear, more decisive, more energetic and more agile.”

He said the bank had 375 management committees and needed to speed up the decision making process.

The  move is effective from 17 July when Mr McFarlane retires from FirstGroup.  A search for Mr Jenkins’ successor is under way.

In a statement this morning the bank said deputy chairman Sir Michael Rake and the rest of the board “concluded that new leadership is required to accelerate the pace of execution going forward and that John McFarlane is ideally qualified in this respect until a permanent successor is appointed.  This development does not signal any major change in strategy.”

It added: “The board recognises the contribution made by Antony Jenkins as chief executive over the past three years in incredibly difficult circumstances for the group, and is extremely grateful to him in bringing the company to a much stronger position.

“The situation he inherited would have challenged anyone facing the same issues.  This continued a period of achievement as head of Barclaycard and our retail and business banking businesses.”

Members of the group executive committee will now report to Mr McFarlane, who will work particularly closely with Tushar Morzaria, group finance director.

Sir Michael commented: “I reflected long and hard on the issue of group leadership and discussed this with each of the non-executive directors.  Notwithstanding Antony’s significant achievements, it became clear to all of us that a new set of skills were required for the period ahead.  This does not take away from our appreciation of Antony’s contribution at a critical time for the company.”

Mr McFarlane said: “Whilst it is unfortunate that I have had little time to work with Antony, I respect and endorse the position of the board in deciding that a change in leadership is required at this time.  I would add my personal thanks for everything that Antony has done for us.  He can be proud of his heritage, especially his excellent work on culture and values that we will continue.  I wish him well.

“Arriving at Barclays with a fresh perspective, it is evident that we have a standout brand with first-class retail, commercial and investment banking businesses.  Nevertheless, we are leaving value on the table and a new approach is required.  As a Group, if we aspire to bring shareholder returns forward, we need to be much more focused on what is attractive, what we are good at, and where we are good at it.

“We therefore need to improve revenue, costs and capital performance.  We also need to become more externally focused and deal with the internal bureaucracy by becoming leaner and more agile.  I have experienced good results in dealing with these matters elsewhere.”

Mr Jenkins said:  “In the summer of 2012, I became group ehief Executive at a particularly difficult time for Barclays.  It is easy to forget just how bad things were three years ago both for our industry and even more so for us.  I am very proud of the significant progress we have made since then.

“Our capital position is much stronger, our business model is more balanced, we are much more disciplined on cost management, we have made good progress in rebuilding our reputation and we are seen as a leader in the application of technology to our business.  While the external environment has continued to be, and will remain, challenging the group now has the resilience to overcome these challenges.

“Most of all, I am proud that we have defined our culture through a common set of values for the group and that the progress we have made and the tough decisions we have needed to take have all been achieved by applying these values and by focusing on the needs of all our stakeholders.

“I want to thank the people of Barclays for their tireless efforts and support in achieving these results and for my own part I am looking forward to the professional opportunities that lie ahead.”

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