Activist investor Ed Bramson has launched another attack on Barclays’ investment bank as he urged shareholders to give him a seat on the board.
Bramson, whose investment vehicle Sherborne Investors holds a 5.5 per cent stake, issued a plea to shareholders ahead of a crunch vote on his bid to become a director next month.
Barclays mounted a robust defence against Bramson’s advances last month, warning his presence would be “destabilising” and “destructive” to the bank.
But the US-based investor hit back today and said that following a raft of leadership changes at Barclays, announced at the end last month, his “experience and temperament” would be a “strongly stabilising” influence on the board.
Bramson reiterated calls for Barclays’ investment banking division to be scaled back and said the current strategy to commit more resources to the division was “untenable in the long run.”
He said the board’s strategy was yet to produce any positive shareholder returns and that sticking to it would lead to a “real threat” that fresh capital would be needed.
The head of Barclays’ investment bank Tim Throsby quit last week after chief executive Jes Staley shuffled the pack.
New leadership of the Corporate and Investment Bank’s (CIB) three divisions, banking, markets and corporate bank will report directly to Staley as he takes greater control.
“In view of Barclays’ most recent announcements of sudden management realignments and departures, we believe that Mr Bramson’s experience and temperament would be a strongly stabilising influence on the board,” Sherborne said in its letter.
Sherborne’s letter to shareholders followed Barclay’s comprehensive 1,600-word attack on Bramson last month.
Outgoing Barclays chairman John McFarlane said: “We believe Sherborne and Bramson would likely seek to undertake a new round of restructuring and review, which, in our view, would significantly destabilise the group, impede the group’s progress and result in a destruction of shareholder value.”
He added that the activist investor had not brought forward any suggestions which management had not already dismissed as being unfeasible or value destructive.
It was the latest blow to Bramson’s bid after Barclays reported better-than-expected results in its investment banking division in February and chief executive Jes Staley followed up with a public swipe.