Activist investor Edward Bramson has called a temporary truce in his battle with Barclays chief executive Jes Staley during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bramson’s investment vehicle Sherborne said today it would withhold its vote against Staley at Barclays’ upcoming annual meeting in recognition of the difficulties posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Sherborne said it still thinks Staley is “unsuitable to continue” as a director of Barclays but said it had decided “with great reluctance” not to vote against him because of the “complexity of the management situation” during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sherborne, which controls a 5.45 per cent stake in Barclays and is its third-largest investor, also called on the board to announce an orderly succession timetable for Staley.
It said regulatory probes into his relationship with disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein and his role in the attempted unveiling of a whistleblower had damaged Barclays’ standing.
In February, Sherborne attacked Staley after it emerged the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) was probing his connections with Epstein.
The investigation was “another example of governance weakness that has led, inevitably, to the recurrent public disappointments and embarrassments which have plagued Barclays” Sherborne wrote in a letter to shareholders.
The FCA and Prudential Regulation Authority are looking into whether Staley was truthful about his relationship with Epstein, which he characterised as professional.
Epstein killed himself in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges and had previously been convicted of sex offences.
Staley, an American who joined Barclays in 2015, said earlier in February that he was unaware of Epstein’s true nature, and has expressed regret that he had any relationship with the paedophile.
The Barclays boss maintained contact with Epstein for seven years after the financier was convicted of soliciting prostitution from a minor in 2008. He visited Epstein in Florida in 2009 while he was still serving his sentence.
Barclays has reportedly already started a search for a new chief executive with Staley planning to step down next year.