Thursday 11 April 2019 5:53 pm

Barclays issues blistering takedown of Ed Bramson as public tit-for-tat continues

Barclays has delivered another blistering takedown of Ed Bramson as the public tit-for-tat between the two continued ahead a crunch shareholder vote next month.

The bank said the activist investor would be a “disruptive and uncollaborative” influence as a director, as it strongly opposed his appointment in a letter to shareholders.

It comes after Bramson, whose investment vehicle Sherborne Investors holds a 5.5 per cent stake in the bank, issued a plea to shareholders earlier this week and reiterated calls to shrink Barclays’ investment bank.


The bank responded, attacking Bramson’s strategy and said the US-based investor did not have the banking experience or skills to sit on the board.

The blue-chip said: "Another strategic overhaul is not what Barclays needs right now".

But the bank conceded some ground to Bramson, admitting it was not performing "at the level at which it should."

Chairman John McFarlane said returns from the investment bank had been lower than “required” but that it was taking steps to improve.

McFarlane said the bank differed from Bramson in how returns should be boosted and said scaling back the division would be “damaging.”

Barclays also reiterated concerns over Bramson’s shareholding, which it said was hedged to limit exposure to a drop in the bank’s share price.

Chairman John McFarlane said: “Shareholders will have received a request for Mr Bramson, representing a shareholder, to join the Board to promote a reduced investment by the Group in Barclays' CIB franchise.


“In considering this, shareholders need to appreciate how damaging this could be.

“Essentially we have a leveraged investor seeking enhanced returns by disrupting the deliberations of the Board in favour of its specific interest.”

On Monday Bramson broke his months-long silence in an attempt to woo shareholder votes ahead of the AGM on 2 May.

He said that following a raft of leadership changes at Barclays, announced at the end of last month, his “experience and temperament” would be a “strongly stabilising” influence on the board.

His comments contrasting an initial attack from Barclays, which warned his presence would be “destabilising” and “destructive.”

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.

 

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