Barclays executives doubled down on efforts to scupper activist investor Ed Bramson’s bid to join the board yesterday, armed with better-than-expected results in its investment banking unit.
In a further blow for Bramson, who has called for Barclays to scale back its investment bank, one of his key allies in the City, Aviva, said his pursuit now had “no merit.”
Barclays chief executive Jes Staley intensified his public criticism of Bramson’s attempt to muscle his way onto the board yesterday ahead of a shareholder vote on the matter in May.
Staley said the bank wanted to engage with the British-born investor and was willing to hear his views, while keeping him at arm’s length.
But he said: “I just don’t believe that to have that engagement he needs to be on the board.
“The sense we are getting from shareholders is that they want stability in the boardroom and for management to continue to execute our strategy.”
He added that while Bramson had laid out the challenges he felt the bank faced, he had not put forward a strategy.
Bramson, the chief executive of Sherborne Investors which holds more than five per cent of the bank's shares, will meet Barclays executives next month ahead of the shareholder vote.
However, investors may be less likely to listen to Bramson’s concerns after Barclays reported that profits from its investment bank grew by 26 per cent to £2.6bn.
Fourth quarterly revenue from its fixed income trading operations fell six per cent to £570m but was better-than-expected amid December’s market rout and outperformed the double-digit declines of its US and European rivals.
A bad day for Bramson was compounded when Aviva, which holds a 19 per cent share in Sherborne Investors as well as being a top 40 Barclays shareholders, rebuked his bid.
Chief investment officer for equities at Aviva, David Cumming said: “As significant shareholders in Barclays and Sherborne Investors, we do not see merit in Edward Bramson’s proposal to join Barclays’ Board as a non-executive director.
“We expect the incoming chairman of Barclays to provide appropriate oversight of the group’s strategy and lead the required changes to the Board.”