Barclays boss Jes Staley has said activist investor Ed Bramson’s board bid “just doesn’t make sense” as he effectively holds a £500m short position against the bank.
Speaking on CNBC, Staley delivered another comprehensive rejection of the US-based investor’s efforts to win a seat on the board.
The bank’s outgoing chairman John McFarlane has already raised concerns over Bramson’s holding, which he said was hedged by time-limited derivatives limiting its exposure to a share price drop.
Barclays has also alerted the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve should his bid be successful.
Senior figures at the bank have become concerned Bramson could use that position on the board to push risky strategies with the safety net of his complex investment structure.
Staley said that through the complex shareholding structure, Bramson had “effectively shorted” £500m worth of shares.
“There’s no management at Barclays allowed to short Barclays stock, let alone management who would sit on the board.
“The alignment of interests is just not there, and having someone who is short of the stock sitting, representing long term shareholders just doesn’t make sense to us.”
Earlier this week Bramson, whose investment vehicle Sherborne Investor holds a 5.5 per cent stake in Barclays, issued a plea to shareholders ahead of a crunch vote on his efforts to get onto the board next month.
He 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.”
Bramson added 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.